30 April 2005

Posted by aog at 13:17 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

What's a few decades of waiting when it's for The People?

I was listening to NPR and the BBC reminiscing about the fall of Saigon today, on the thirtieth anniversary. The general attitude seemed to be what a wonderful thing that was. One commentator repeated North Vietnamese propaganda with nary a trace of irony or context:

This is not a defeat for any of the people of Vietnam, but only for the Americans.

I tend to think that there are more than a few Vietnamese would might disagree with that sentiment. But this was left as the final word in the segment.

It was also bitterly amusing to hear the talk of how Western capitalism is invading Vietnam and how the economy is starting to boom. There was no mention that had South Vietnam not fallen, the boom might well have started 20 years ago instead of just recently, that South Vietnam might well have followed South Korea more closely. Gosh, wouldn’t that have been an evil fate! How wonderful that the Americans were kicked out of the country, so that they could be invited back in 30 years to support the country’s economy.

The NPR types talked of the noble sacrifices made by the Vietnamese during the war, but never asked what was gained by these sacrifices. The mere fact that they were made was apparently deemed sufficient to make them noble and beneficial. It is particularly bizarre when considered in conjunction with the point from the previous paragraph — what exactly did those sacrifices accomplish? Other than putting off wealth and liberty for the Vietnamese for at least thirty years? Is that the accomplishment of which the modern Leftists are so enamored? Probably, since they seem to just as enamored of Castro’s success in removing the threat of wealth and liberty from the Cuban people for decades as well.

27 April 2005

Posted by aog at 20:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Sometimes you need to dance with some one else

Brothers Judd cites an article on the impending breakup between liberalism and multi-culturalism. All I can say is, I’m stunned that it’s taken so long or that anyone is surprised by this. While the article touches on some basic conflicts, it misses the slightly larger picture. In terms of basic values,

  • Liberalism is universal
  • Multi-culturalism is local

That’s the incompatibility right there. All else is derivative of this. Once you accept the tenets of multi-culturalism, you have surrended any basis for insisting on any conformance to any common principles1.

The first faction of liberalism to get hit by this was feminism. That’s because the adoption of multi-culturalism meant giving up principles such as gender equality. This concern was dismissed out of hand early on but came back with a vengeance with regard to female circumcision.

One attempted solution (although adopted for other reasons as well) was the notion of group rights. This allows liberal principles to be applied to groups as a whole instead of individually. I always wondered why we didn’t see more of local subcultures attacking feminist principles on this basis, that it was their “cultural” that ordained how women were treated and how could anyone else dare to claim that culture was inferior or wrong? But that didn’t seem to happen. Somehow groups entitled to their own cultural was limited a set of politically correct groups.

But this (as we say in progamming) just “swished the dirt around”. The essential contradiction remained, just buried a little deeper. The flaw here was the group rights, as used, effectively adopted the racist viewpoint that liberals had fought against. It was unable to cope with members of designated groups who didn’t adopt the standard goup viewpoint2.

Now we have the final compromise, the remaining forces of the Modern American Left joining up with factions and ideologies that are not just incompatible but openly hostile to their professed ideals (the key moment being the attack on George Galloway for exhorting his target faction to vote).

The question that will serve as an endless debating point for future historians will not be why this conflict evolved in this way (it was inevitable) but why the liberals clung to multi-culturalism for so long when it was so obviously incompatible.


1 Indeed, one is left wondering whether multi-culturalism doesn’t have this conflict all by itself. Isn’t multi-culturalism, the acceptance of the morality and equivalence of all cultures, itself a universal principle? What can a multi-culti do against a culture that rejects that principle of equivalence? On the other hand, if that’s a universal, why not others, such as those of liberalism? The Objectivists, at least, had an answer for this issue.

2 Could this be part of the reason that so many liberals insist on gangsta culture being the authentic African-American culture? Not only does this model require a monoculture for the group, it also requires that monoculture be distinct from the majoritarian culture, otherwise the entire edifice of distinct groups collapses.

Posted by aog at 18:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

There's a bit of space between friendly and hostile

Best of the Web quotes Stephen Spielberg on the subject of extraterrestial visitors:

“I have to certainly believe what my heart tells me. That the first time there is a meeting of the minds between extraterrestrials and human beings, it’s going to be friendly,” Spielberg told The Associated Press. . . .

“I can’t believe anybody would travel such vast distances bent on destruction. I believe anybody who would travel such vast distances are curious explorers, not conquerors,” Spielberg said. “Carrying weapons a hundred-thousand light-years is quite a schlepp.

I don’t think Spielberg is completely wrong here, although I suspect that what he does get right he gets right for the wrong reasons.

I would agree that any species that makes it across interstellar space to this solar system is very unlikely to be hostile or a conqueror. However, Spielberg shows a remarkable lack of imagination for someone in his line of work.

Conquest isn’t going to be profitable for the same reason we don’t have slavery and the USA is uninterested in conquering other nations. Once a society reaches a sufficient level of technology, brute force and large scale coercion becomes a liablity, not an asset. This is of course the same effect that doomed the USSR and other Communist nations.

What is far more likely than hostility is complete indifference. It’s far from obvious that that would be preferable. For instance, a automaton swarm that dissassembled the planets to build large scale space structures would be indifferent to humans but hardly beneficial. Stephen Baxter’s “Xeelee saga”;http://www.answers.com/topic/stephen-baxter has a similar basis. The Xeelee are a very old, extremely powerful race. They basically ignore humans, which is so upsetting that humans go to war against the Xeelee, who basically swat them as we would an insect. Despite the war the Xeelee are never hostile, simply indifferent, because it’s not a real war from the Xeelee point of view. The Xeelee operate a level beyond human comprehension. Because of this, they have no direct effect on human civilization because there’s no trade, no real interaction. I suspect this is the most likely scenario, which can make for a good novel but leaves a bit to be desired in the drama department for a movie.

P.S. Not carry weapons across 100,000 light years? First, that’s the width of the entire galaxy and therefore can’t be the actual distance traveled to get here (since we’re about 30KLY from the outer edge of the galaxy). Second, just what kind of devices could these aliens carry that couldn’t be used as weapons? As Niven pointed out, a high power reaction drive works wonderfully as a weapon (something like an Orion drive would be even more easily used as a weapon). Interstellar lasers would do fine as a death beam. Nanotech medicine would be far more deadly than any of our biowar efforts.

All I can say is, if Spielberg needs ideas for a science fiction movie in the future, he’d better outsource it.

22 April 2005

Posted by aog at 11:14 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Being secure in one's self

Orrin Judd has a post that cites an article about the silliness of those railing against a conservative Catholic Church and Pope. The basic point is that Churches which have followed the advice to “go with the times” and become politically correct have also faced a strong dropoff in clergy and parishoners, while conservative Churches have done much better.

I think this is obvious — if the Church doesn’t stand for some eternal verities, what is it except a pale imitation of a social club?

So one wonders why the chattering classes go on about the Catholic Church doing something that both thought and experience show would enervate the Church? For those of us cynical Machievallians, the firs thought is that the destruction of the Church is the goal and the chatterati are using the tropes of the day to achieve that goal. But really, having seen them screw up recent Democratic Party efforts at the Presidency the same way, I just don’t find it plausible. They haven’t demonstrated that level of cleverness for decades.

Instead, it is once again the strong aversion to intellectual diversity that is the hallmark of the Modern American Left. How dare the Catholic Church assert beliefs and practices that are not in conformance with that of the MAL? That calls in to question the MAL’s psychologically necessary conceit that they are the smartest, most insightful, wisest group of people ever gathered together in human history. All must be forced in to the same shape, that ordained by the current fashion among the MAL, in the same way that Communism makes society a uniform, drab grey of conformity. I used to think that support for Communism among the MAL required them to overlook this problem, but now I wonder if instead it was viewed as a good thing. It certainly meant that one could live without ever having to grapple with deep issues or having one’s life choices challenged by the examples of others. And isn’t that security worth any price?

21 April 2005

Posted by aog at 20:08 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Illumination by contrast

Powerline writes

This AP headline caught my eye: Expert: Apes May Be Key to Human Nature. This strikes me as odd. I would think that humans provide better clues to human nature than apes, and we have thousands of years of human history, not to mention six billion or so living humans, to draw on for information about human nature. But the idea of drawing conclusions about humans from observations of apes has a long history, and shows no signs of going away. Why is that? I suspect it’s because some people don’t like what human history and human behavior tell us about human nature.

No, not really. It is often that case that if one wants to understand subject A, it is very informative to look at subject B which is very similar but not the same. The most common example is that learning a foreign langauge generally leads to a deeper understanding of one’s native language. Both the similarities and contrasts illuminate principles that would otherwise remain hidden. My own programming skills in my preferred languages are enhanced by my knowledge of a variety of other programming languages, more so than I could be had I worked not worked in those other languages.

That said, I concur with Powerline that the fascination with Bonobos is likely a result of the politically correct nature of Bonobo society. But that doesn’t mean that the basic concept is bogus.

Posted by aog at 18:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

At least I only have to change one word on my protest signs

As predicted, the calls of “Nazi!” came out against Pope Benedict XVI within 24 hours. Being so predictable such actions have no information content. The Jerusalem Post, on the other hand, comes out strongly in defense (via Random Jottings, Cap’n Ed) of the new Pope. As the JP points out, how Ratzinger acted as an adult in a position of power is a bit more important than what he did as a youth. I’d say the same even if the Hitler Youth hadn’t been voluntary. It might well be that the future Pope worked on reducing the amount of judenhass in the Catholic Church precisely because of his background, not in spite of it. But of course, his real sin is not trying to mold the Church in the trans-nationalist image.

20 April 2005

Posted by aog at 15:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Training to fail

I am beginning to understand how phishing attacks work. I used to wonder how anyone could be fooled but now I know better.

She Who Is Perfect In All Ways has been experimenting with PayPal as part of her work for her computer security class. Somehow I got roped in to helping as an experimental subject. What I’ve learned from the experience is that PayPal trains its customers to fall for phishing attacks, despite the clear warning on the bottom of the e-mail to not do so.

How does that work? By making it far more convenient to do the things that phishing attacks depend on. For instance, if I get sent some money, then I get an e-mail telling me this. In the e-mail is a link that take me directly to the payment page via an easily spoofed login page. The page doesn’t even display the account’s e-mail address so it’s very easy to spoof. Depending on the browser (e.g., Opera) you can only access the link by logging in from the page for that link — being logged in to PayPal in another tab doesn’t have any effect. Even for browsers where being logged in on another tab bypasses the login page for the link in the e-mail (e.g., Firefox) you still need to login separately to be secure.

Of course, at the bottom of the e-mail is the instruction to always go to the PayPal website by typing in the base URL. But most people will click through as soon as they see the link. A warning in the text before the link might be helpful. As it is, the link provided by PayPal is in direct violation of PayPal policy, as stated at the bottom of the e-mail. The text there basically says “Don’t click on the links we put in the e-mail”. OK… So why, exactly are the links there if it’s wrong to click on them?

The bottom line is that despite PayPal’s disclaimer, it operates in a way that rewards the same behaviour that makes phishing work — training people to just click on the link in an e-mail to go directly to a PayPal page. On top of that, it provides an easily spoofed page as part of the process. Surely they could do a little better than that.

Posted by aog at 13:49 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Everything or nothing

Instapundit comments on the burning issue of ‘Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?’. The reviewed source correctly points out that the big money in drug dealing is only available at the top of the food chain. The lower level dealers generally make less than minimum wage, with a large chance of prison or death. Why would someone take that kind of job? Instapundit goes with the theory of non-monetary benefits (respect, women, etc.). I think that’s part of the reason, but what he misses is how much this system resembles professional basketball where many will play but few will prosper. The movies Hoop Dreams explored this topic. There’s also the similarity to the lottery, where once again almost everyone will do more poorly than if they didn’t play, but a few lucky ones will become wealthy. Or, as a reader points out, the rock music industry.

Basketball, even before one reaches the upper echelon where the real money, has its non-monetary benefits. Similarly for rock music. The lottery doesn’t, yet people still play that. I would conclude that while the non-monetary benefits are an attraction, they are not the dominant motivator for engaging in pursuits with a low expected value of remuneration and a very high variance. While there are those that delude themselves in to thinking they will be one of the winners, I wonder if there’s not also a bit of “it’s not worth it unless I win big” so that the contrast between being a flunky drug dealer and a normally employed person doesn’t seem significant even considering just the economic benefits.

18 April 2005

Posted by aog at 11:53 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

We didn't intend that for export

The Brothers Judd note that the recent anti-Japanese unrest in China has soured business relations between the two countries. This, apparently, is a surprise to the ChiCom Politburo. It reminds me strongly of Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s miscalculation about how the American Street would react to his open anti-Americanism ploy during his last election. I think there are two major reasons for this kind of mistake.

  • Parochialism The leaders involved simply don’t consider the fact that the targets of the anger might notice it. After all, the leaders are doing purely for domestic consumption, so why would anyone else get upset?
  • Tactical thinking The existence of, say NATO or profitable business relationships with Japan, are not considered to be contingent facts but underlying realities, so it comes as a bit of a shock that such things can change. This is a common failing of the Socialist mode of thought, Socialism itself working from the reality denying basis that no matter what you do to businesses and their leaders, they will continue to produce and advance as they do currently.

While it is, of course, delicious schädenfruede against the ChiComs, I also have little to no sympathy for the Chinese citizenry. After all, one doesn’t seem them protesting about the whitewash of ChiCom atrocities in China, which killed far more Chinese in more horrible ways than the Japanese inflicted atrocities. Not to mention how so many Chinese hate the Taiwanese and Tibetans enought to want to destroy them via invasion or annexation, despite the fact that neither people ever ravaged China.

15 April 2005

Posted by aog at 10:06 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Waiting for an accident to happen

Spoons has posted about someone who hit a car barrier while riding a bike resulting in being quadriplegic and winning a lawsuit against the local government that maintained the bike trail. I won’t dwell on the point that this kind of thing is what insurance, not lawsuits, are for.

Instead, this reminded me of another idea I had while working with She Who Is Perfect In All Ways on her computer security class. She has her class building worms that use the buffer overflow attack to subvert target systems. I was thinking about that and some other automated testing concepts I’m working on for my current business. I wondered about whether it would be feasible to automate the examination of the source code or raw binaries to detect such issues. However, if one could do that, one follow up by sending the results to the manufacturer and then us that fact in a later lawsuit. It would be exactly the same as the lawyers who cruise sidewalks, documenting bumps and potholes so that when someone trips over one the lawyer can sue the city and claim “they knew about it but refused to fix it”. Now I wonder how long it will be before someone is actually doing that.

14 April 2005

Posted by aog at 18:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

It's just like capitalism - no wonder they hate it

I was reading Austin Bay’s article on the efforts of the Caliphascist in Iraq to get a “Tet Offensive moment” going via attacks on Coalition forces. Of course, members of Old Media will deny that they are providing propaganda services for the Caliphascist but it occurred to me that one can counter that with a simply thought experiment. If there were, say, fifty attacks on Coalitions forces in one day (ala Tet) and 49 of those ended in the slaughter of the attackers while in a single case the attack succeed in slaughtering the Coalition force, what would the headlines and reporting look like? Would it be reported as the crushing defeat for the attackers that it was, or would only the single defeat for the Coalition dominate the headlines? I think we all know the answer to that and what it indicates about the direction that Old Media drives their story lines.

In such a case the news might well be accurate but false by portraying accurately the one failure while ignoring the vaster number of successes. One might well think that Old Media has some responsibility to report something approximating the truth but that may be asking too much. Not so much from mendacity but a simple inability to actually grasp the big picture. My personal experiences with journalists do not leave me with many reasons to believe that any but a handful of them are in fact capable of synthesizing multiple bits of information in to a unified whole. Rather, the unified whole, the “story”, is already preformed and the facts are simply slotted in. If the facts don’t fit, they are modified or discarded as necessary. Others have remarked on this as well to point out that Old Media depends on story lines not to enforce their ideology so much as to relieve the cognitive burden of having to think about things.

Perhaps this is the niche that the blogosphere can fill. Not so much as generators of “news” but as a framework for generating understanding of the flow of events. This certainly doesn’t mean that some small set of alpha webloggers will do this, but rather that conceptual frameworks will be developed randomly across the blogosphere, the good ones will be promoted and the bad ones discarded. Like a gardener, one doesn’t try to create the flowers but rather awaits the flowers making themselves, while ruthlessly culling the weeds. Whatever the subject, there is someone out there who is both highly knowledgable and obsessed about it and he can provide the basis for understanding which is then hammered and improved as it simmers in the blogosphere meme pool. Of course, it will look disorderly and unorganized while this is happening and it will only be in hindsight that we can see what was going on (so it will be a perpetual “well in my day we discussed good ideas like ZZZ!”)1.


1 Of course, this is just like a capitalist economy and good businesses. It is the disorder that allows news businesses and business models to arise and expand. A well planned, centrally guided economy just can’t do that because we lack the ability to predict the future. I think we’re seeing now the “capitalization” of media and journalism, as capitalism emerged as the old guild and patent systems broke down.

08 April 2005

Posted by aog at 19:55 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

You can't turn the table if the other guy's got a better grip

The Fourth Rail has a good post on what the recent shift in Caliphascist tactics in Iraq means. It’s obvious to us, of course, that chosing to engage the USA military in set peice battles is just short of suicide by soldier. So why would the Caliphascists take this tack? Here’s a key quote from an alleged member of Al Qaeda:

“We are going to use the same method that they used when they attacked Iraq,” said Abu Jalal, who uses a nom de guerre and described himself as a former general in the Iraqi military during Saddam Hussein’s rule.

“The old military officers know very well that the attacks on the bases of the enemy army weaken the morale of the soldiers and frighten them. The soldier feels safe when he goes back to his base. If he is attacked in the place that feels safe, that place is really hell,” Abu Jalal said.

Two things leap out at me from this. The first is the idea that the Caliphascists should adopt the techniques used by the Coalition during the invasion. That is, in effect, an admission that the Coalition / Iraqi Interum Government basically own the country. I doubt that was the intended message.

In this vein, the comment about attacking troops in their bases so that they don’t feel safe, thereby sapping their morale looks remarkably like the Coalition tactics against the Caliphascists. Do they know just how horrible that can be precisely because they’ve been experiencing it?

07 April 2005

Posted by aog at 23:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Defining liberty up

Via Ann Elisabeth, Spam Huntress I found this list of various techniques used by e-mail spammers. The interesting bit to readers of this weblog was:

Most reuptable ISPs in the developed countries realize that taking on a spammer’s traffic can do nothing but get them in trouble with other ISPs as well as millions of users (including their own “honest” customers). So, spammers are often forced to go elsewhere to get their messages sent. […]

As these countries struggle to join the new information economy, they are eventually confronted with the necessity to play nice with other network users; this often leads to crusades against spam operators. The foremost example here may be Brazil, which is waging a fierce war against spammers, although they face a resourceful and well-entrenched opponent. China, on the other hand, seems to run hot and cold; while they are diligent about restricting their own citizens’ access to (and activities on) the internet, they don’t seem particularly concerned about the use of their network bandwidth to host websites for pornography, stolen software, bogus drugs, and counterfeit goods offered to the rest of the world. [emphasis added]

One is led to wonder whether China might not deliberately encourage spammers in order to get foreign ISPs restrict Internet access for citizens to the rest of the world. Certainly the PRC could arrange for those of its own organs that need unfettered access to have IP address space ranges that are non-spamming and therefore tolerated by foreign ISPs. Everyone else gets shut down or strongly restricted because of the spammers without the PRC having to do any dirty work.

In this vein, I recall that one of the webhosting companies I use is in Hong Kong. That’s where I had JYB originally. I had to move it to another webhost because it was running very slowly. I found out later that this is because USA based ISPs are deliberately throttling traffic from South East Asia because of the massive amount of spam originating in that area.

Why does the PRC support a national network in the first place? Is that purpose compatible with the Chinese network being mostly disconnected from the global Internet, except for a small number of tightly controlled systems? The PRC might well be able to control internal spam well enough to tolerate it (since they can do things to spammers that people here can only write about in flaming rants). There is the issue that was raised over at No Illusions which is how economically crippling it will increasingly become to be disconnected from the USA national network. How will the PRC balance that? Will it want to? Any connectivity will allow the export of too much information about the USA to the local populace. Any controls sufficient to prevent that will destroy much of the utility because of how rapidly things change. Perhaps the PRC will be learning juche from North Korea.

P.S. A side note is that perhaps the Internet is an example of defining deviancy up. As with so many things, building liberty takes much more knowing that it is possible than any specific techniques for doing so, a fact long ago recognized by totalitarian regimes. Like countries with low tax rates in Europe, the social forces unleashed tend to be far more liberal than restrictive. The only hope for the totalitarians is, once again, the UN.

06 April 2005

Posted by aog at 21:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Anti-spam

There was a wave of trackback spam over at JYB and I ended tweaking MTBlacklist 1.65 itself to take care of it. The key marker on the trackbacks was that the putative title of the post and the weblog were identical. That doesn’t happen for real trackbacks. I therefore modified MTBlacklist to check for that and automatically reject any trackbacks with that property. I changed the search mechanism to match on such trackbacks as well, just to be thorough.

extlib/jayallen/Blacklist.pm

This handles searching.

Line 1262, after the first if@ statement. Actually, this can also go after any of the @elsif clauses as well, depending on whether you want it to take precedence over normal black list matches.

#AOG<
} elsif (($matchType eq 'blacklist')
              and ($type eq 'ping')
              and ($obj->title eq $obj->blog_name)) {
  push(@filtered_objects, { class => 'title_name_match',
  blog => $blognames{$obj->blog_id},
  entry => $e,
  object => $obj,
  matched => $obj->title});
#AOG>

There’s a bug around line 1684. It generates the “unitialized value” messages you sometimes get on the MTBlacklist search page. It always does that for the title / name match types unless you fix it.

#if ($matchType eq 'blacklist') { #AOG - comment out this line
if  ($_->{class} eq 'blacklist') { #AOG - add this line
    $html .= '&lt;tr class="'.$alternate.

extlib/jayallen/MTBlPing.pm

This does the actual rejection of trackbacks.

Around line 99, insert the code from #AOG< to #AOG>. It’s an ugly hack on top of an ugly hack, but there you are.

return $app->_response(Error => $blResponse);
#AOG<
} elsif ($tb->title eq $tb->blog_name) {
  my $blog = jayallen::Blacklist::_getBlog($tb->blog_id);
	
  $app->log('MT-Blacklist trackback denial on '
    .$blog->name.': Title matched Weblog Name &ndash; "
    '.$tb->title.'"');
  my $blResponse = jayallen::Blacklist::_getConfig()->{denyResponse};
  $blResponse =~ s/__TYPE__/ping/g;
  return $app->_response(Error => $blResponse);
}
#AOG>
}
### INSERTED CODE ENDS HERE ###

05 April 2005

Posted by aog at 21:01 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Loss of signal

I was reading this post by Joanne Jacobs about how the culture at Harvard has changed over the last century, as seen through two novels involving characters at school there. The difference JJ highlights is that of sexual mores. The old time character, a male, is advised to avoid fooling around with women while at college as being unseemly. The modern character, a female, is a columnist for the school paper who writes about sex and apparently does quite a bit of field research (how unjournalistic of her! of course, it’s just a novel, but still…).

What I wonder is whether some of the problems related to gender on college campuses aren’t related to this. While one can make too much of modesty, it does provide a very useful and powerful signalling mechanism between the genders. In contrast, in a culture where even nudity isn’t particularly outré how does a woman signal that she has more than platonic interest in a particular man? The result of course is things like the Antioch sexual relations code that requires legalistic verbal exchanges between potential partners in intimacy

It struck me that this represents a pattern of the upper middle class college educated New Class that constitutes the core of the Progressive political faction in this country. The essence of solutions from this ideology is procedural — if there is something going wrong, better (and generally far more detailed) procedures can be used to solve the problem. For the New Class, filling out additional forms is easy and natural, even if it is viewed as a burden by everyone else. The standard example is the endlessly multiplying forms for welfare and other government programs. On the one hand these are supported by Progressives to help the poor, but on the other hand the procedures are often so tedious, complicated and unforgiving that many of the putative targets can’t get through the process (not that this is viewed as a problem by the Progressives, because the true purpose is to provide jobs, social status and psychological comfort to the Progressives which doesn’t require helping very many of the poor). The issue with modesty noted above can fit in to this pattern as well, taking something which has been done informally for all of human history (charity, dating) and turning it in to a banal bureauocratic exercise.

P.S. I shouldn’t forget to note that “Campaign Finance Reform” fits this pattern as well. Is it really the Puritans who can’t abide others having fun?

Posted by aog at 20:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Hacking away in mega-coder-ville

Yes, I’ve been very dilatory about posting here. I’m actually working now, on the new company thing, as opposed to passing time watching my technical ideas get ignored. I’ve also been working on some Movable Type related code as well. The last fews days I’ve been working on an anti-spam plugin call AutoBan. I’ve been banning IP addresses of comment and trackback spammers. At first I did it by hand but the spammers tend to switch IP addresses frequently. So I started building some automation to do some of the work. Finally I figured that it would save me net time to just automate the whole thing. So now I can fire up a page that grubs through the MT Blacklist logs, sorts the IP addresses of the spammers and gives me a button which, if pressed, immediately bans all of the listed IP addresses at the web server level. It’s definitely gratifying to push the button.

Unfortunately, although there are many things I’d like to write about, I’m not feeling the same level of motivation for the weblog. Or maybe my thoughts have just gotten bigger because the things I want to write require long essays that represent too large a chunk of time. I’ll just have to make my fortune so I have plenty of time to annoy both my readers.

03 April 2005

Posted by aog at 10:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

March to Madness

I am peripherally aware of the entire “March Madness” thing related to a basketball tournament, but even as a non-sports fan I find it a bit odd. What amazes me is the emotional attachment so many people seem to have with their colleges. For me, going to college and graduate school was just an interaction with a service provider.. I gave them money, they provided me with some educational services. It was no more meaningful or emotionally fraught than my relationship with my dry cleaner. I can understand locals rooting for the home team but people who moved away after school and haven’t been back for twenty years? It’s inexplicable to me.