log (2005/12/09 to 2005/12/15)

So in reading back over old log entries I came across this one about the "Repent America" people who unfurled a banner at some sports event about how homosexuality is sin and they had to be removed by security before the crowd could beat them up, and I went over to the Repent America site to see if they were still there (they are) and I clicked on the links some, and then I wrote them this note out of the kindness of my heart:

It seems odd to me that the page that I get to if I click on "All others enter here" (i.e. the page designed for non-Christians) is all about the Ten Commandments, and assumes that the reader believes that the words in the Christian Bible are true. Presumably many, even most, of the people who click on that link don't consider your bible to be an authority; so citing the Ten Commandments to those people seems kind of beside the point?

Just a friendly thought... *8)

Right away I got back an automated "we got your note" note, and not long after I got back this:

Mr. Chess:

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Gal. 3:24)

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them." (Rom. 1:19)

Serving the King, Michael Marcavage

Now at first (and in fact still) I thought that it was the height of irony that when I wrote to point out that Bible quotes aren't a very good way to communicate with non-believers I should get a reply consisting entirely of Bible quotes. But those quotes really are about what great teaching tools scripture makes, so they're not irrelevant (and therefore perhaps not bot-output). Of course since they are themselves quotations from scripture, anyone not already in the choir is going to think they're discountable as self-promotion (ref, as always, Kissing Hank's Ass), but presumably Mr. Marcavage is more or less forbidden from thinking that way.

Which is nice, actually; the thought that the Bible (at least as interpreted by these neophobic literalists) contains lousy PR advice is comforting in these troubled times.

(Whoa! The story quoted in that old log entry refers to Mr. Marcavage as the Director of Repent America; so this isn't just some little webmaster being funny or anything. Wild.)

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I've talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."

Good thing that can't possibly be true, eh?

Snark from Morford:

War on Christmas Part II: Pope vs. Materialism

Pope Benedict warned today against rampant materialism which he said was polluting the spirit of Christmas.
The Reuters article doesn't mention which of his gold-embroidered robes, stoles and jewel-encrusted hats and crucifixes the Pope wore while making his statement from his treasure-filled Vatican palace.

Meta: some Washington Post thing that we recently commented had, when we went back to it later, a sidebar with this content:

Who's Blogging?

Read what bloggers are saying about this article.
For the Record
In My Defense
Log -- David Chess

Full List of Blogs (179 links) ...

Pretty scary. (In fact it still says that today, including the link to us; I wonder why we're in the three of the 179 that they decided to feature? Our worldwide fame? Our devilish good looks?)

The other day someone who will never come here entered into an old input box:




I don't think I'm going to email zack (because well you never know), but I do thank him (or his puppeteer) for the kind words. (The Third Amendment is all about clams.)

Widely linked:

How to stop filesharers from stealing hotel bandwidth
Edit: For those calling BS, I'm a network security engineer and I do security design work, penetration testing and social engineering work for a living. Yeah, it was kind of a mean thing to do, but some of us need to do real work from the hotel instead of download music. Plus, I possibly saved the guy from getting busted by the actual RIAA. Maybe someday I'll post my story about pretending to be a comcast tech and walking some guy through troubleshooting a router which was giving my home connection problems for over 3 months. It was magically fixed the next day after he put in a faulty ATM interface ticket. :)

(It was a pretty mean thing to do; although it makes a funnier story this way it probably would have been better for the universe overall if he'd just called the guy and talked it over honestly.)

From Susie Bright: Human Upgrades! The future is Now.

More spam has arrived! For a change! A recent favorite (in its entirety, minus uninteresting mail headers):

To: rd5s22i87t@davidchess.com
From: Mikayla Correa <forecasters@cartner.net>
Subject: turbans
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 10:35:03 +0000 (UTC)

square asteroid larvae

Turbans! Square asteroid larvae! Must remember this for next November! (Or maybe we can have a practice WoMiFiWriMo in January or something.)

(I've gotten a bunch of spam today, in fact, with randomly generated subject lines and content, consisting of either random words like that or random one-line aphorisms, with no actual advertising or trojan horse content or anything. I can't imagine the purpose; maybe someone just testing out a spam channel or something? Very odd.)

In other spam, Portia Winrow replies to Cruz Buch on the subject of "Re: gosh skeletal", and other people reply to other people on "pussycat electrostatics" and "viatic hobbledehoy", as well as "A finish in polish wainscot" and (another favorite) "I work the nauseous esoteric".

Do you too work the nauseous esoteric?

"Kimberly Hunt" seems to have joined "Maddie Lathe" on the list of names that spammers somehow associate with some of our email addresses. Kimberly doesn't have the skewed exoticism of Maddie, but we welcome her to our psyche nonetheless; we're easy.

Fans of the Sims stories should check out the list, 'cause I've probably added to it without mentioning it here. Highlights are that Joan Danvers has graduated from college, and the Townie Project has moved into Casa Townie.

Also, some fanservice:

Sally and Arcadia flirting


A reader points out:

Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism. Scientific explanations are built on observations, hypotheses, and theories. [...] According to many scientists a core claim of evolutionary theory is that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.3 Other scientists disagree. These standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement. (Strikethrough text to be deleted; italic text to be added.)

It's so embarassing!

I was listening to BBC World Service on our local NPR station this morning, and they had a piece about the recent Kansas School Board actions on evolution and intelligent design and stuff. You could just hear the amusement (the politely smug but in fact rather gleeful amusement) in the voices of the announcer and the reporter at the antics of these backward Colonials.

Can't Kansas just secede or something? Then they can all save their immortal souls / wallow in ignorance, and the rest of us can burn eternally in Hell / raise children with at least half a clue.

For the sake of full disclosure, I'll point out that a more complete quote from the full document is:

Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena. Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argument while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism. Scientific explanations are built on observations, hypotheses, and theories. A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate observations, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

So there's still a definition of science in there, and talk of observation and hypothesis testing and all. They've just removed that pesky "natural explanations" term, because (as the full report goes into at great and thoughful length) "naturalism" is just this controversial secular worldview that we wouldn't want to force upon our impressionable children, since there are viable alternatives to naturalism like literalist Christianity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and so on.

Thanks so much for putting all this thought into these issues, Kansas. But if you could please do it in some other country to avoid future embarassing BBC reports? (Not to mention economic catastrophes due to a workforce that's confused about science.)

Probably about the latest novel, a very kind reader writes:

Yes, lovely, clipped and sharp and Sunday-stay-in-bed-languid, pungent like topiary at nightfall on the day the gardener's been busy with his secataurs. I want a red vellum copy to read in Elysian Fields to babies whose ears are glazed over by sleep, to lovers whose ears are glazed over by love, so that I can greedily horde the wasp-honeyed words of Divertimento all to my mine own ears and lips.

I'm considering having Cafe Press Books make me a physical copy of the novel, but I don't know if they do red vellum editions. *8)

A generous spammer writes:

Subject: Jolly Holiday Christmas - Please get me this

Dearest Old Claus,

I am wishing for the gift box too, and since these are not genuine, they can get me two if they want. We are not talking a lot of money here. I mean who wants to get another stuffed lizard?

Who, indeed, wants to get another stuffed lizard?

"I can't imagine living anywhere else."

"I don't know. Whenever I'm in a big city, I feel like I'm on edge all the time. If I actually lived there, I think it'd take a long time for that feeling to go away."

She just looked at him for a long moment.

"Why would you want it to go away?"

Snow day!!!

I was planning to take the day off anyway (have to use up more of the year's vacation days), but the kids were happy in that way that only kids on a snow day can be. There were other kids in and out, or our kids off somewhere, pretty much all day, and we have a mysterious vaguely fort-like shape in the snow outside under a tree. (And one of the kids is crashing around with a friend upstairs, and one is out and needing to be picked up eventually, even now at nine pea em).

I eventually got the snowblower going and did the driveway that way, with enough detail work by shovel afterwards that I felt at least a little of that nice cold and tired and sweaty feeling that snowblowers threaten to drive into extinction. (The Dangers of Efficiency.)

On our fancy Ajax toy, readers write:

Bring on the abstruse Web geekery!

Forget spam subjects . . .
. . . and Sims.

And similarly

But, but, but ... we like obscure Web geekery!

But there are so many weblogs and websites and things that do Web geekery! We pride ourselves on being the market leader in spam subject lines and Sims and Iris Chacon (and Irish Bacon) references. And web geekery sometimes too. (And broken koans. And microfiction. And of course viewing Yahoo webcams without permission.)

We'll let this reader sum it up:

Ajax. It's not just for kitchen sinks any more. No, wait ...

On the other hand, readers write all sorts of other things via the Ajax toy. Here are a couple nice ones, semi-randomly snatched from the stream, both perhaps about Mia:

She could not stop the lovingness. It perfused her, visceral, at times tangible. The object of her lovingness did not wish to be so... she had long ago accepted that. Any sane person would just open up their telomeres and let the lovingness unravel off the ends, gather like lint and blow away. That's what any sane person would do.

She had this thing for flashlights, something about the way they could just be sitting there useless, taking up space then suddenly push the rubber button and they provide instant illumination... especially the new electromagnetic ones.

(I'm pretty sure I saw that first one briefly on Metababy, too; I'm not sure what that means.)

How about just one spam subject line?

Subject: The World's First Nativity Set Kids Can Touch

Yeah, that's certainly a breakthrough! People are really tired of the usual intangible nativity sets.

Subject: craftsperson lebanese Scribe Malonek
Subject: Dear nadia Elva Schaffer
Subject: Re: vulva
Subject: I drive a greenback
Subject: Re: And forget an torchlight drachm
Subject: An explain to mycology propitiatory
Subject: Not drink of devalue
Subject: Re: legofmutton Phxarmaceuticcal

Hey! Who let those in here?

(They are good, though.)

The Cthulhu family circus! Very strange! See also this related image (or not, if you value your sanity).

All sortsa new Sims stories posted; you can go over there and read them. One image I'm going to post here:

Sim Doom!

From the Sims 2 / Doom crossover! *8) (In case it's not clear, that's a Sims 2 snapshot, with Doom-derived floor and wall patterns. I really need to take one with a Sim in it, don't I?)

From HTML o' the Day, a thing to look at!


"Tramps like us ... and we like tramps!"


Yes grapes, and lemons and well, oranges, and you who can write the rings off married women's fingers and off Saturn too.

with bath

All very nice, and I think kind. I have to admit being especially fond of "with bath", because I can't think what it might mean (I do love a mystery).

In the same input box, but I suspect on the subject of the "World Microfiction Writing Month" that I suggested that week and then completely forgot about until now (well, except for that one time in the car, but that was very brief):

NaNanoWriMo, obviously

Or NaNoNanoWriMo, if you want to include the month

And here's my entry: "There was a malaise about her, a sadness that others felt as a weight, or a weariness, as she passed, and it caused them to think of a time in their lives when hope had drained from their spirit, and breath came slowly."

NaNoNano, that's funny! I think we'll stick with WoMiFi for now to avoid confusion though (we can mention NaNoNano in the FAQ). The entry is good; now can you do it on twenty-four different days in the same month? *8)