Monthly Archives: December 2004

rat bastard spammers

in a previous entry, i informed my kind readership that comments within this blog were being (temporarily) disabled. this was done as a prophylactic measure to stop the flood of comment spam i was getting. my solution worked for about two weeks, but it turns out that my foes are determined.

the rat bastard spammers are back.

i can think of a few forms of human life that are lower on the totem pole [insert lawyer joke here], but spammers are feeding pretty near the bottom of the well. i have a message for these people (if you’ll forgive me for being impolitic): "p*ss off, you worthless scumbags – you’re polluting the internet with useless garbage and save a small minority of individuals, we all wish you would just go away."

how are they spamming me? i’m not sure. i removed code within my site that provided the means to insert comments, but they seem to have gotten around that (they’re probably either caching successful spam targets, or pulling my (cached) pages off Google). regardless, it sucks.

while i don’t count myself as an author, per se, the phenomenon of comment spam would be akin to random people inserting ads about poker or viagra or wanton teenagers inside the books you picked up at Borders (or your favorite indie bookseller of choice). absolutely no one would tolerate that kind of crap (at least, i hope they wouldn’t). and yet blogs are different, probably due to the fact that they’re still in their infancy as a writing form.

so…this dictates a fairly immediate upgrade to my blog. i apologize in advance for any outages.

10 things i forget (part I)

in no particular order:

  1. what day of the week it is
  2. whether or not i’ve watered the plants
  3. people’s names
  4. people’s names (it’s so bad that i’ll count this one twice)
  5. going back and buying newlyweds gifts after their wedding if i have no time to buy the gift before the wedding
  6. canceling those stupid free-for-30-day phone solicitor offers that i accept just to get them off the phone without seeming rude
  7. how long it takes to christmas shop
  8. to read lists that i create for myself so that i don’t forget things (thus rendering the process of list creation meaningless)
  9. to turn the heat off when i leave the house
  10. to live every day of life as if it is my last

there are definitely more, although i can’t remember what they are right now…

santa is scary

on an entirely different holiday note, parents should remind themselves that kids and santa are often like gasoline and matches. alder was kind enough to send me a gallery of scary santa pics just in case there was any question. my personal favorites are #7 (santa after too much eggnog) and #9 (former felon turned santa). this probably exposes my deeply twisted and cynical view of Xmas.
bah humbug.

timely advice for holiday parties

wondering how to satisfy your holiday partygoers? worried that brie, crackers, and a BV cabernet are becoming a bit passe as appetizers? looking for something new and exciting to liven things up? well, look no more:

the good housekeeping 10PM cookbook has got some tried and true ideas for you.

if these don’t work, well, your guests just don’t know a good time when they see it. either that, or you skimped on the booze…

(thanks for the pointer, sean!)

past as prologue in iraq

the following quote made my stomach churn:

We . . . imagined that we had bestowed on the Iraqis all these blessings of democracy. … Nothing could be more undemocratic than the result. A handful of politicians obtained possession of the machinery of government, and all the elections were rigged. . . . In this process they all became very rich.

is this colin powell predicting the failures of the bush doctrine in iraq? a left-wing pundit putting forward his ‘told-you-so’ vision? it almost seems like it could be, but it’s not. in fact, it was Major John Glubb who wrote those words; he was the british officer who organized the Arab Legion, and he was speaking about the failure of british policy in iraq after it invaded the country during world war I.

a more extensive commentary on past lust-for-oil incursions in iraq can be found in a commentary by edwin black. mr. black has also written an article expressing his belief in the futility of elections in iraq.

the similarity of current and past circumstances is eerie, although each situation was spawned by a different set of events. regardless, it brings to mind santyana’s famous quote that "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

do people in iraq want a western-style democracy? some of them probably do; lots of them probably don’t. will elections, held jan. 30 or otherwise, magically create a stable democracy in iraq? it seems highly unlikely. will elections instead lead to deepening ethnic and religious conflict, and ultimately civil war? as the magic eight ball would say, "Outlook Not Good."…

comments disabled

the blog spammers have finally gotten me. i got about 2900 comments this weekend on my blog (up from about one comment spam over the last three years).

while i love getting feedback from my readership, this does not include tips on places to go for online gambling, or on how to buy various medicinal supplements that might be to my benefit (even though they’re CHEAP!).

as a result, comments have been temporarily disabled until i can upgrade my blog to MT 3.1, and can enable both blacklists and pseudo-Turing tests. you will neither be able to submit comments, or to review previous comments until i have this fixed.

thanks for your patience.

gettysburg address, PPT style

powerpoint presentations are like vampires: they suck the lifeblood from ideas and information, and they’re impossible to kill. microsoft should release powerpoint with a little label like the intel badge, one that says Vampire inside ™.

the best lampooning of PPT style i’ve seen to date is a witty parody of president lincoln’s famous speech:
The Gettysburg Powerpoint Address
this pres reinforces my vampire comparison. the original gettysburg address was memorable for its power, for the melancholy and passion it evoked, for its important call to action. in the hands of powerpoint, rendered in corporate non–speak, even lincoln’s ideas can be reduced to a dead lump of clay, a mass of soul–destroying Arial and bar charts.

unfortunately, powerpoint isn’t going to die any day soon; corporate america has neither the wooden stake nor the will. it’s a quick and easy way to convey information, and in a world of time–starved people, the quick and easy route is the path of least resistance. in the wrong hands, though (and based on what i’ve seen, most hands are wrong with powerpoint), the result is soulless and no information is actually transferred.

so, the next time you pull out powerpoint, do the world a favor and put it back in its crypt. if you can’t, then do what you can from putting your audience to sleep. i’ll do the same.

NOTE: for those interested in ways to improve powerpoint presentations, edward tufte’s article the cognitive style of powerpoint is probably a good place to start.