Spamalamadingdong

I occasionally grumble about comment spam, but seldom like this:

Sorry about turning the Turing test back on in comments, but Blogger’s spam comments filter has just completely collapsed under the onslaught recently. I woke up this morning to find twelve digital turds plopped in the latest comment threads since 0100, and that’s not counting the sixty more in the spam traps.

Google jiggled their search algorithms back some time last year to more heavily weight backlinks in “social media” and news article comments sections, and even-less-scrupulous-than-usual SEO types responded by unleashed hordes of gibberish-’n’-backlink-spouting ‘bots on the Blogosphere. Comment spam had been a desultory sort of thing before that, sort of the universal background noise of blogs, but by the end of the year I was scooping as many as 300 spam comments out of the trap first thing every morning. It wasn’t so bad as long as they were getting caught in the trap, but now they’re getting past the filter and I won’t stand for that.

That’s Blogger. How’s Movable Type doing? Not so swiftly either:

Starting last Friday there has been a continuing attempt by spam comment creators (Blotted be their names from the Book of Life, and may a thousand weasels nest in their pants for eternity!) to overwhelm the Spam filters. Some inevitably get through and I have to weed those out by hand.

Total spam comments usually run to a total of a few hundred a day for both the main column and SideLine. Irritating but manageable. The recent onslaught, however, is running up to five or six thousand a day. This tends to overwhelm the site with read/write/filter operations which slows down legitimate comments as well as the site in general. There are fixes for this that I’m working on, but for now it is going to a slow going.

Hmmm. I’ve had fifteen since the first of March.

Then again, I’ve had my own godawful months — December 2008, with about 3,000, was the worst — so I have no reason to assume I’m immune to this sort of thing, though I’ve taken rather a lot of precautions.

Comments (5)




Looky-loot

A store in Brisbane, Australia is sick of people coming in to look at stuff and then go buy it from Amazon or wherever, and is doing something about it:

As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for “just looking.”

The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.

Why has this come about?

There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.

This policy is line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.

Exactly when is this fee collected? Do you have to peel off a fiver the moment you cross the threshold? Or do they wait until you show up at the exit with no purchases?

I can’t see how this model can generate any additional revenue, unless they’re counting on this, um, gesture to bring them a whole lot more publicity. Viral whining! You gotta love it.

Comments (1)




Waste not

When some relative of Bambi’s decided to take out my car in the summer of ’06, I placed a call to the Highway Patrol, who in turn passed the word to the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which would deal with the remains — if there were any left when they got there, since it was at least plausible that someone might back up a truck and haul away half a freezerful of fawn, which is legal, in the sense that it’s not illegal: as Al Gore used to say, there is no controlling legal authority.

There’s about to be, though, in Montana, where House Bill 247 — “An act creating permits to salvage certain game accidentally killed by vehicles” — is on its way to the governor’s desk. How this happened:

[I]t took someone quite familiar with deer-car encounters to bring it up in the Legislature: state Rep. Steve Lavin, who also is a Montana state trooper.

“I was at a troopers’ meeting last summer and another trooper brought up the idea. I thought, ‘It’s kind of a good idea’,” he said on Friday.

“I was thinking, how many times have I had people ask me, “Hey, can I take this?” and I’ve had to say, ‘No it’s illegal’,” he continued, relating his own skirting of the rules in making roadkill available to a food bank.

As in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Montana’s bill would grant a permit or a tag to people who want roadkill for food. State Sen. Larry Jent is a co-sponsor.

“It passed the House and needed a sponsor in the Senate. I was laughing uncontrollably, so the chairman assigned it to me,” he said from Bozeman.

You can check your own state laws here.

Comments (1)




A popular model

Says so right on the promo:

Roz Greenwood in Cartoon and Model Parade

You may recognize the name of Irving Klaw, who had long billed himself as the Pin-Up King; IMDb’s scanty report on Roz Greenwood describes her as “Circa 1950, black hair photo model, and exotic dancer, featured in several of Director Irving Klaw’s 8mm silent films.” Most of those were made in 1954-55, after Klaw’s success with Strip-O-Rama, a B-film featuring several strippers alongside his “bondage” model Bettie Page. (One of them has the curious title Second Initiation of the Sorority Girl, featuring Page and Roz Greenwood.)

There exists footage of Roz solo, which you can see after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)




Too old for linky love

One of the features of the current WordPress admin is a section called Incoming Links, which uses Google’s Blogsearch function to tell me who, if anyone, is linking here. Sometimes it works perfectly well; sometimes, not so much. Last I looked, I had four incoming links, one from this past week, one from last summer, one from 2011, and one from 2007.

In case you’re curious, that most ancient of links came from a formerly obscure local social blog that gets about 26 times my traffic. By coincidence — at least, I think it’s coincidence — they threw me some Twitter traffic today.

Comments off




Diminished accessibility

From Saturday’s business section in the Oklahoman:

Work will start this week on a new home for the Oklahoma City office of the U.S. Social Security Administration at Market Center, an office park by PrecorRuffin on the northwest corner of NE 122 and Kelley Avenue. The work will begin with a small ceremony at 1 p.m. Wednesday at 12301 N Kelley Ave. Clyde Riggs Construction is the general contractor. Bockus Payne Architects designed the 23,000-square-foot office building.

I understand why SSA would want to move — the old Shepherd Mall has seen better days, and foreclosure proceedings are underway — but the old Shepherd Mall is actually on a bus route, while the new digs are at least two miles from any other transit stop in town. (Route 18 goes straight up Kelley, but turns left at Britton Road, the 9400 block; Route 5 actually makes it to 122nd, but along Pennsylvania, three miles west of Kelley.) You’d think that Not Making People Drive might have been one of their criteria for site selection, but evidently not.

Comments (1)




Yet still not analog

You might as well get as much out of those bits as you possibly can:

Parasound, a purveyor of fanatically high-end consumer audio equipment, has introduced a CD player that’s controlled by an internal Mini-ITX computer running embedded Linux. Using a CD-ROM drive for playing CDs, the “Halo CD 1″ sucks in the CD’s contents at 4x normal speed, giving its CPU time to detect and eliminate disc errors before outputting near-perfect audio.

By reading data from the disc at four times the speed of a conventional CD player, the device’s embedded Linux computer can read each section of the disc multiple times, checking for discrepancies between the reads.

Hmmm. Just what do they mean by “fanatically high-end”?

The Parasound Halo CD 1 CD-player comes in silver and black, and is priced at $4,500.

Think how much it would have cost if they’d tried to run it on Windows 8.

(Via Fark.)

Addendum: I went back and read the associated Fark thread, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Windows 8 joke halfway down the page. I am not alone.

Comments (1)




Strange search-engine queries (373)

The last weekend of winter — then again, that was supposed to be the weekend before last, and we all know how well that worked out — is finally behind us, and before us stretches a week’s worth of logs. Was it worth the wait? Let’s see:

nice legs and nice shorts:  Well, you see, that’s why we were waiting for the end of winter. Some of us, anyway.

siteontheface porn pics:  Some sites you might want to keep your face out of, know what I mean?

I made him feel small:  The pressure of having a site on one’s face, I’d bet.

rose mcveigh having naked sex in casanova:  In days of old, they’d dress for that sort of thing.

a mineral that is not a silicate is:  Probably going to oxidize your face off.

can going to an indoor waterpark give you bronchitis:  Doubtful, since it’s not on the list of things for which they charge extra.

San Francisco hellhole apartments for the fucking poor–from riches to ratholes:  Perhaps if they quit doing that, they could afford to move someplace better.

why have local methamphetamine labs disappeared:  Because you wanted to save a few cents and decided to shop at a national chain like Tweakers R Us or the Boned Depot instead.

too stupid to love wiki:  Plenty of new material, the editors having lots and lots of free time to kill, much to their despair.

fonts that say stupid:  Call me when they bring out Tragic Sans.

Comments (2)




The trail stops here

Right about now, LaMarcus Aldridge is wondering where that straitjacket came from. The Blazers’ forward did nail down a double-double — ten points and 12 rebounds — but usually Aldridge is good for 20, even 30 against those OKC ruffians, even if the Thunder did win the last five games against Portland. Besides, the Blazers had a two-point lead at the half, and while the Thunder rallied, there wasn’t too much to sweat: with six minutes left, Aldridge took a pass from Nicolas Batum and dropped it into the bucket from 19 feet out, and Portland was down only 88-83. Little did he know that the game was over right then. The Fail Blazers, normally a good fourth-quarter team, did not get so much as a single free throw for the rest of the game, and were sent back down the trail with a 103-83 loss and their chance at the #8 seed decidedly diminished.

Damian Lillard, the Blazers’ #6 pick in 2012, is officially declared the Bright Spot of the game: he rolled up 19 points, right at his average, and served up six assists. Portland had five in double figures, including Lillard’s backup point guard, OKC expat Eric Maynor, who led the bench with ten. Still, 40.5 percent shooting is fairly terrible, and while they were doing well with the long ball early on, eventually the treys quit falling — they wound up 10-26.

Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were feeling it tonight, Batman 10-17 for 24 points, Robin 9-18 for 21. And the bench, give or take Derek Fisher, was hitting, led by Kevin Martin with 11 and Nick Collison with 10 on 5-6 from the floor. Up front, the Serge Protector was working up to speed: Ibaka had 16 points, only three boards, but five blocks.

You want better news? The Rockets edged the Spurs, 96-95, on a James Harden (of course) pullup with 4.5 seconds left. (The Beard finished with 29.) So the top of the mountain is now only a game and a half away. Not that the much-improved Wizards, 3-2 in their last five and 1-0 against OKC this year, will care when they come to town Wednesday.

Comments off




Povertymongers

They’ve devoted their lives to Changing The World — but not, of course, to the extent that the change would put them out of work or anything.

Comments off




Icon hardly believe this

My last monitor had a single sticker on a corner of the case, saying “Designed for Windows Vista,” and you all know what I think of Windows Vista. The new display screen, same size except front to back — I swear, there are tablets thicker than this, and I don’t mean iPads, I mean freaking antibiotics — is festooned with no fewer than eleven little bits of metalized plastic that are intended, I suppose, to Mean Something.

Down the left side: LED (well, it’s actually LCD with an LED backlight); Ultra Slim (as noted, supra); DCR 50,000,000 to 1 (Dynamic Contrast Ratio, whatever that’s supposed to mean); Illuminating Touch Key (which means you can’t find it until you put a finger on it); Low Power (25 watts, they say); Screen+ (which supposedly enables the user to turn the available space into four separate displays, all too small to read); Off Timer (like I need it to wait); VESA Mount (built into the base, making wall mounting easier, assuming I could read this from that distance).

From bottom left: “Compatible with Windows 7″ (for the record, my NVIDIA video card recognized it immediately, and it’s about two versions older than Win7, and I didn’t so much as look at the proffered driver disk); EPEAT (an environmental rating system, in which this machine rates Silver); and the inevitable Energy Star.

Perhaps this looks cool on a retail shelf. I think it’s overkill.

Comments off




Visit our new Alta Vista branch

Will Truman’s looking for a bank, but probably not this one:

I ran across Presidential Bank. Its website bills itself as an “Online Bank” even though they have physical locations as well. But its website looks like something right out of Geocities. I know not to judge a book by its cover, but its website gives me serious pause about their legitimacy. Which is totally bizarre, because if I were starting a fake bank with a website, I would totally make the website look as real as possible.

This is reminiscent of Steve Martin’s routine about why banks are always called something like “Security National Trust and Federal Reserve” — because no one’s going to put their money in “Fred’s Bank.” On the upside, no one’s going to believe that Fred’s is Too Big To Fail.

May we suggest Redneck Bank?

Comments (1)




Quote of the week

Today, say the pundits, you create your own brand, sell your own image, and it’s clearly in your own best interest to make that image as shiny and glittering and appealing as possible.

Yeah, right. How’s that working out for you?

An obsession with image, a constant concern with how one is perceived, has the effect of turning life into a performance, demoting others to the role of mere spectators. Nothing is genuine or sincere or authentic, but instead everything is done for the sake of the impression it creates on others. Everybody is Willy Loman, worried about being “well-liked.”

To hell with all that. Life as an endless high-school popularity contest is only interesting to people whose egos are so badly damaged they are consumed with a self-hate which they attempt to mask with sociopathic manipulations. They deliberately cause problems and then blame others for the problems they’ve caused, because their entire lives are an evasion of responsibility. They are incapable of recognizing themselves as the source of their own problems, because this would require them to admit error, a recognition of personal shortcoming that their fragile egos could never withstand.

Dr. Laurence J. Peter anticpated this situation forty-odd years ago: “An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.”

And even Willy Loman caught on at the last minute: “Funny, y’know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.”

Comments (4)




Hachi-Roku round the clock

The Subaru BRX/Scion FR-S twins have won much praise as track cars, though 200 ponies aren’t really enough to go serious racing.

To enable the Scion to participate in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge Series, Toyota Racing Development has developed a supercharger package for the little boxer engine. Difficulty: under SCCA rules, the package must be available at retail, but Toyota doesn’t want 2nr d00dz to get their hot little hands on it.

Solution: a price point that will discourage all but the hyper-serious racers. We’re talking $26,000, which is almost exactly the price of a complete unblown FR-S.

Bonus: minimum order two. It’s a safe bet Ricey McRicerson, lover of fart-can exhausts and spoilers higher than your hat, doesn’t have fifty-two grand to spare.

(To those who would burn me for invoking an Asian stereotype: Hey, it’s a Scottish name. Just look at it.)

Note: Working title for this was “No homologation.” Look it up if you must.

Comments off




Fark blurb of the week

Comments (3)




More Whiz to compensate

Canada’s National Post has an excerpt from Michael Moss’s book Salt Sugar Fat (Toronto: Signal Books, 2013) about “the day they took the Cheese out of Cheez Whiz.” A sample:

[Dean] Southworth had been part of the team that created Cheez Whiz in the early 1950s. The mission had been to come up with a speedy alternative to the cheese sauce used in making Welsh rarebit, a popular but laborious dish that required a half-hour or more of cooking before it could be poured over toast. It took them a year and a half of sustained effort to get the flavor right, but when they did, they succeeded in creating one of the first megahits in convenience foods. Southworth and his wife, Betty, became lifelong fans and made it part of their daily routine. “We used it on toast, muffins, baked potatoes,” he told me. “It was a nice spreadable, with a nice flavor. And it went well at night with crackers and a little martini. It went down very, very nicely, if you wanted to be civilized.”

So it was with considerable alarm that he turned to his wife one evening in 2001, having just sampled a jar of Cheez Whiz he’d picked up at the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. “I said, ‘Holy God, it tastes like axle grease.’ I looked at the label and I said, ‘What the hell did they do?’ I called up Kraft, using the 800 number for consumer complaints, and I told them, ‘You are putting out a goddamn axle grease!’”

Of course, axle grease keeps better. Southworth duly read the list of ingredients, and did not in fact see any mention of “cheese” at all, though several components — whey, for instance — did show up here and there.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (4)




World rocked, film at 11

For years I’ve been griping about the term “meteoric rise,” usually while noting that meteors, when we see them, aren’t rising at all: generally, they’re plummeting.

I made the mistake of dropping that bit of shtick on the lovely and talented Tabitha St. Germain, and was paid back thusly by a third party:

meteorism in the medical sense: accumulation of gas in the abdomen or the intestine, usually with distension

I was, of course, aghast. It occurred to me to suggest that as a general rule, there wasn’t much vertical propulsion involved with that particular condition, but at that point, I was already doing some plummeting of my own.

Comments (1)




Do they even lift?

Charles Darwin may not have anticipated roadkill, but it certainly seems to play a role in natural selection:

A new study by biologists at the University of Tulsa and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln presents evidence to suggest that cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) in southwestern Nebraska may be suffering [lower] incidence of collision with cars, thanks to shorter wings.

According to Current Biology, researchers Charles Brown and Mary Bomberger Brown have been paying close attention to the swallow population in this particular section of Nebraska. They’ve found that the birds measured now have shorter wings than did the birds that were first studied back in 1982. What’s more, there are a smaller number of roadkill birds found in the area — despite increases in both swallow population and traffic since the study began. No increase in roadkill-eating scavengers has been found either.

And just to hammer it home, birds found to have met their fate on the highway seem to have wings of above-average length; perhaps the extra feathering reduces agility or speed.

Comments off




Gotta stay up on Friday

On a scale of 1-10, Rebecca Black rates her “inner self-confidence” at 15:

Oh, and if you were wondering why she was in Florida in the first place (see previous post, the answer is Playlist LIVE:

First and foremost, Playlist is a festival for everyone who loves online video and music! There will be live performances by many of your favorite YouTube and musical artists. Beyond that, YouTube and music have become very collaborative, so it’s about interaction. There will be interviews and interactive talks, complete with audience participation, from YouTube artists. There will be meet-ups and autograph signings with all of the artists participating, and every artist will have merchandise for sale. You can meet your favorite YouTuber and film the experience and post it to your own YouTube channel!

Hard to imagine her not being there, really.

Comments off




Gotta get up on Friday

The last Orlando-Oklahoma City game was an offensive show: the Thunder rolled up 73 points in the first half and then fought back a Magic rally. But that was a whole week ago. This time, it was only 47-34 at the half in front of a crowd of enthusiastic Floridians (plus Rebecca Black — hey, it’s Friday), but the story unwound much the same way. At the 3:55 mark, it was tied at 86; Kevin Durant outscored Orlando 6-2 over the next three and a half minutes, and the Thunder pulled away for a 97-89 win. “We didn’t play very well,” said Nick Collison afterwards, but a W is a W.

Hedo Türkoğlu is still gone, of course, and the injury situation for Orlando was somewhere beyond serious: Nikola Vučević was unwell, and Arron Afflalo pulled a hamstring in the second quarter. The younger guys did step up, though: Maurice Harkless knocked down 25 points and hauled in nine boards; Tobias Harris posted one of two Magic double-doubles (ten points, 15 rebounds), the reliable Jameer Nelson (16 points, ten assists) recording the other.

What Scott Brooks is thinking, though, is probably something like this: “You guys missed more free throws than they made.” Which is true: Orlando went 8-10 from the stripe, OKC 24-33. He would likely agree, though, that this was a good night for Serge Ibaka to be back at 100 percent: 14 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks. The Russell and Kevin Show delivered the usual quota of offense, Westbrook scoring 19 and Durant 25; for a change, two bench players (Collison and Kevin Martin) finished in double figures. And the Thunder’s three-point mojo isn’t back, technically, though 5-21 is better than they’d been doing of late, and nobody not named Kevin would hit one.

Next two games at home: the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Wizards on Wednesday. (Friday and Saturday they’ll be in the Frozen North, against Minnesota and Milwaukee.)

Comments off