log (2005/12/30 to 2006/01/05)

It snowed and slushed and stuff last night and this morning (and all day), and the kids had their first day back at school off as a Snow Day (quite a change from Florida!).

Reaching down and feeling around in the Large Bag Of Things To Put Into The Log tonight, I think I'm feeling lots of little links and Spam subject lines and things (sort of thin and sharp) rather than big masses of profundity (which are larger and softer, and sometimes sort of furry).

From Joel on Software, a great rant on how Java is too easy and is spoiling all these modern kids. Truth and curmudgeonliness. (I need to write something in Lisp and/or Scheme again sometime.)

Two more Sims Stories!

A slightly expanded version of my comments from yesterday about that Best Buddhist Writing 2005 book.

Some Spam Subject Lines!

Subject: New York Times Crosswords You Can Take Anywhere!

Unlike the usual New York Times Crosswords, which are chained to the foundation of the building!

Subject: Get Smooth Skin on us!

Hee hee.

Subject: Maura some belt buckle knives are sold out

Uh-oh, Maura!

(Now I want to write a whole short story about a character named Maura who cares about the availability of belt buckle knives.)

Quite a few times over the last few months (years?) a reader (or several readers) has (have) written into various comment boxes:

buy kamagra in the UK

I hereby pass the message along to you. Guard it well.

Another reader writes, more comprehensibly:

Hey! It turns out that games are protected by the First Amendment. Whodda thunk, eh? [link]

Neat and cool. Another court decision that I really need to find the time to read. At first glance it looks like yet another judge turns out to Get It. Which is always nice.

And another reader:

If you haven't returned the DVD to netflix yet, you may want to check out Roger Ebert's commentary. It's one of his favorite films, and the commentary is a lecture that he's giving to a film class while watching the movie.

If you haven't seen it, you may be interested in the "Hush" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which looked to me like a tribute to Dark City. It was a singular achievement for broadcast TV, as will become obvious after about five minutes of viewing.

I'm sure you've seen Blade Runner a bazillion times. That's the other film I usually mention in the same breath as Dark City.

Sadly I had already returned the DVD when I read this, but I could always put it on the queue again. I've taken to skipping the commentaries on most films these days (because it means finding the time to watch the whole movie again!). But this sounds worthwhile. (As does "Hush"; I wonder if the local Blockbuster, or for that matter Netflix, would let me find such a thing.)

Blade Runner, definitely.

An unusually bad Microsoft security hole: see New WMF 0-day exploit and Be careful with WMF files and other stuff nearby on the f-secure weblog. See also the official Microsoft Vulnerability in Graphics Rendering Engine Could Allow Remote Code Execution notice, which includes instructions for deregistering the buggy DLL so things will stop calling it at the drop of a hat. This one is especially nasty, since it basically gives complete control of a Windows machine to anyone who can get the user to look at a carefully-crafted image, and there are already exploits out there being used by the bad guys. Wowch!

Speaking of bad guys, I kinda suspect that Verizon Online may have a little scam going here. I mentioned the other day that I'd switched from some old Verizon DSL organization because their special deal with IBM was ending, to the mainstream Verizon Online DSL. I don't know if I mentioned that the rate they charged me the first month was considerably more than I'd been led to believe it was on the phone. I'm willing to believe that I just misunderstood on the phone (and the rate was still less than the other part of Verizon had been charging).

But then in the next bill the rate was even considerably more. I called them to ask about it, and after navigating through the call director I got a nice lady who said (after putting me on hold for some time) that oh yes that was "a mistake" and they'd put it back to what it was supposed to be.

Now I wonder. I mean, of course it could really have been a mistake of some kind. (Although since presumably these bills aren't typed up by hand I'm not clear exactly how that could have happened.) But wouldn't it be an interesting little scam to "by mistake" jack up the price of some percentage of customers now and then, knowing full well that some significant fraction of those customers either won't notice or won't bother doing anything about it? I wonder if anyone keeps statistics on this kind of thing?

The little CGI script that pretends to be a Moveable Type comment form has been attracting an unusually large amount of spam recently; but it's all uninteresting stuff about cigarettes and phentermine, and hardly worth mentioning.

And I finally got around to writing a macro or two to assist me in gathering spam subject lines, so I may post a few hundred more sometime soon (because of course no one but me has any access to spam subject lines!). Some of them are just so good, I feel like there should be a whole log entry (even a whole weblog!) devoted to each one.

Serendipity is wonderful...

Dada da da,
Dada da da,
Elmo's world!

So I turned on the TV while putting together some bagels and lox this morning (it's sort of an unofficial Sunday here, since we were travelling on real Sunday), and there were these people shouting about celebrity love affairs, and on another channel there was someone saying that "the miracle of compound interest is truly the eighth wonder of the world", and on another channel there was this politician standing at a podium saying "to make this country a safe and secure place to live, work.." and I'm thinking "and to raise our children" and she said "and to raise our children" and...

Thank Heaven for public television; I was eventually able to stop switching channels when I got to the one that was showing how five cartoon strawberries take away four cartoon strawberries leaves one cartoon strawberry, and a fuzzy red monster singing a song about a goldfish.

Not that celebrity love affairs and cliché-ridden politicians and ads about stubborn belly-fat aren't part of the perfection of the dharma too.

Speaking of which, a reader writes:

well, if we're in Heaven already, doing God's will without even trying, it does take the force out of any specific prescription, e.g. "why do I have to take up arms against my neighbors if we're in Heaven already? I'd rather just stay at home and play with my kids." the real benefit isn't a direction, but the confidence that the direction you're already heading can't be that bad. further experience might lead you to change your mind about what you're doing, or it might lead you to continue doing it, but either way, i'm ok, you're ok. (one of my favorite quotes of the buddha is, "confidence is the greatest wealth of humankind.")

Yeah, that's the sort of indirect effect on behavior that I was speculating about; the "everything you do is already God's will" thought doesn't tell you (me) what to do, but it may well alter what you (I) do. (The quotation about confidence, also translated as "conviction" or "faith", seems to be from the Alavaka Sutta (part of the Sutta Nipata).) Exactly how it might alter what we do is still an open question.

And on the same subject a(nother) reader writes:

So this blog is the perfect blog, and your writing is the perfect manifestation of Mind, and the thoughts that it sparks in our wee little heads are all part of the perfect plan. Wow. That's really very, very strange!

Hey, if it wasn't strange it wouldn't be a Great Truth, eh? *8)

Keeping in mind that language can't express truth, here are a couple of things that bubble up in my mind on reading those words, taking as exemplar "this blog is the perfect blog."

The thought from the other day is most accurately expressed, I think, as "this is perfect". This has a couple less words than "this blog is the perfect blog".

The "the" might tend to suggest that this weblog is perfect in a way that some other one isn't, and that's not part of the thought (at least the flavor of the thought as I was thinking it the other day); all those other weblogs are perfect expressions of the dharma / God's will / Ariadne's glory also.

More subtlely, the "blog" suggests that this particular part of the universe can be carved away from the rest of the universe and labelled "blog". The thought that this is perfect is, I think, most naturally a thought that applies to the undifferentiated universe (although "universe" is also just a word; better perhaps to say "a thought that applies to this"). The universe (this) before we carve it up or stick labels onto it.

On the other hand, this is the perfect weblog. *8)

I just finished reading that "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005" book that I mentioned last week (in our discussion of that thought about perfection, in fact). It was good. If I were omniscient I might not agree that it was strictly the best Buddhist writing of 2005 (not all of it seems to be particularly 2005, even), but some of it was very good, and all of it was worth reading.

I'm probably least fond of the very techical expositions of complicated formal Tibetan-style Buddhism. I have to admit that when for instance I read the Dalai Lama writing stuff like

Through the first seven boddhisattva levels, which begin upon reaching the true path, the accumulation of merit of the second incalculable eon is completed. At the eight boddhisattva level, we finally overcome all the afflictive emotions and thoughts.

I always find myself thinking

We also get a +2 on all spiritual saving throws, and can cast an unlimited number of first-level Illusionist spells per day.

But that's just my own limited (if perfect) perspective talking.

So anyway we had a great time at Solstice, and then we went on airplanes and things down to Florida to see Dad get married, which was moving and wonderful and stuff, and we also met lots of new relatives: I have two brand-new adorable little twenty-one year old step-nieces, and a step-brother, and a step-sister-in-law, and a step-step-sister, and all sorts of new people whose email addresses I have to remember to get so I don't completely forget about them, and also lots and lots of photographs. (But because I'm still very shy with other people's pixels, the only pictures you get to see are pictures from other subuniverses.)

Holiday wishes:

The insane sadistic loon wishes you and yours an inevitable holiday season. Or else.

Wishing you and your really dear ones the very best the season can muster up ( N.B. The Scrooge in me says that no Sims are to be included in this greeting, absolutely none, not even the babies.)


All day I dream about shoes

"donnie darko" is freakin' wonderful. It really is. Make sure you get this year's extended cut.

ho ho ho

I'd like an August holiday.


Y'all have summed things up nicely, as usual. (M says that the Donnie Darko that she put onto our Netflix queue does seem to be some sort of extended cut, possibly the one that our reader recommends.) On the inevitable holiday season, we refer everyone to fafblog. (We also refer everyone to fafblog for insightful commentary about important political shenanigans that we've been blissfully mostly ignoring.)

All reader Scroogishness is forgiven; the Sims don't seem to have holidays anyway (EA put out a package with some pretty lame Generic Holiday Decorations, but as far as the Sims themselves are concerned they're just objects, with no particular holidayish functions). Or religion. Or dust.

And so on and so on! We have an August holiday around here, due to clever selection of birthdays. *8) But the details are another of those secrets.

I remember some months or years ago a reader scolded me for having become lazy, and just posting reader input in a bunch rather than commenting cleverly or profoundly on each one. I do find myself wanting to take your words and arrange them and comment on them and make something artful out of them. But (going back to that thought again) in this particular place it's good to know that whatever I do or don't do with them, however they happen to fall sparkling onto the sand mixed with whatever I do or don't say in response, the pattern that results is perfect, in conformance to the will of God and the Dharma, and a completely accurate reflection of the beauty of the Goddess.