Approaching pandemic

Is this something related to Blogger? Fillyjonk reported a few weeks back:

I deleted a good 60 “anonymous” comments that were either just a long list of dodgy links, or were those weird, enigmatic, vaguely positive things with one link hidden at the end.

I’m kind of fed up. So I’ve tried turning word verification back on. I know this will probably cut the already-small number of comments I receive, but it’s really a pain to delete all the junk comments from my e-mail, and it’s disheartening to get a big whack of comments and realize not one of them is from someone who is NOT a ‘bot.

More recently, from Jeffro:

Man, it seems like this blog has been besieged with spam lately. Fifty or sixty spam comments are usually waiting in the ol’ folder after twenty four hours. I don’t think Feedjit or Site Meter are tracking them, but they do show up on TraceMyIP. Most are just the generic blast a bunch of drug names and a link, presumably where I can get fleeced thinking I’ll be able to buy Ambien. Or maybe I’ll really be buying Abmien or however they misspell it. Wonder what it does…

These numbers seemed unusually high to me, so I dug into my Akismet stats. Since the first of September, forty-three days ago, I’ve had 99 spam comments — and 527 nonspam comments. (“Missed spam” and “false positive” balance out at 1 each.) This is a hair over two spams a day. Now I have had worse periods than that — the Worst Month Ever, December ’08, saw 2988 spams, nearly a hundred a day — but in the last six months or so, the volume has tapered off considerably. Maybe the bot networks have refocused for the moment.

Whatever the explanation, I am forced to conclude that Google, which owns Blogger, should swallow their pride and trade whatever feckless anti-spam measures they use for a fresh copy of Akismet, even if it is owned by the people who own WordPress.

Comments (5)




Bolshevrolet

One obvious effect from the post-WWII partition of Germany:

Take a society of diligent, hardworking people with the same heritage and cultural values, put half of them under Communism and half under Capitalism, and come back and check the cars forty years later. Capitalism gives a range of vehicle choices ranging from the diesel Golf to the Benz 600SEL, and Communism produces the Trabant, and so few of those that they have to be rationed at that.

Of course, it wouldn’t be history if it didn’t repeat itself:

In the follow-on experiment, Capitalism produces the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, and Communism produces the … the … does North Korea even have an auto industry?

In a manner of speaking, yes. You should know that the new-for-2008 (more or less) Pyeonghwa Hwiparam, which bears a “II” designation, is a Brilliance BS4, licensed from the Chinese and scorned by the British.

I have to believe that our current crop of Fuel Economy Über Alles types actually aspire to the DPRK model: we must conserve our precious resources, so that they can keep driving their Benzes.

Comments (3)




Quote of the week

Fillyjonk, on the ubiquity of geekitude:

I honestly can’t say I really know any people I’d call boring. People who have few interests that intersect with my interests, yes, but I’ve found that people generally have something interesting about them if you look a little bit. As I said to a colleague the other week, when we were standing around while our students collected data: “Everyone’s a geek about something. There are people who are geeks about barbed wire. Or trains. Or old books. If someone says they’re not a geek about anything, they’re either lying or they have a very limited imagination.” And actually, it’s the place where a person IS a geek that makes them interesting — because they know stuff about that topic and are interested in sharing it.)

Now I find myself wishing I were on a train, reading an old book about barbed wire. Or something like that.

Comments (7)




Perhaps a black comedy

All I know about it is that it opens on the 20th of October:

Imagine sitting in a theatre without seeing anything. It’s pitch black, and someone strokes your arm. A “cause celebre” in a number of European theatres, the Odyssey brings a unique experiment to its own stages. Theatre, all in the dark! Anticipate the ever present potential of the unexpected. What can happen during an evening theatre experience in complete darkness with audience intimately confronted by actors, constantly changing spatial and sound perspectives, utilizing voice, music and sound?

Short answer: I have no idea. This is not a huge theatre — the Odyssey is one of those Showcase Code (formerly “Equity Waiver,” and I’ll bet a tale hangs thereby) houses with exactly 99 seats that have flourished in Los Angeles over the past couple of decades — and given how easily I’m baffled by low-light scenes, I have to figure I’d be utterly discombobulated by this pair of productions, which are sensibly titled Dark and More Dark.

It may be, though, that I am merely insufficiently cynical. As Nancy Friedman tweeted yesterday: “Can’t decide whether Theatre in the Dark is a brilliant creative concept or just a way to save on set decoration.”

Comments off




Relatively motionless

What single word describes the Thunder offense tonight? My first thought was “nonexistent,” but since they did score once in a while, I’ll go with radio guy Matt Pinto’s offering: “stagnant.” As in “not moving when you could be.” As in “never once led.” The usual preseason cautions apply, and Russell Westbrook had the day off — just resting — but the Jazz still seemed a lot more organized, and won it on their home court 97-81.

How dominant was Utah? All but one OKC player finished minus for the night, the exception being Perry Jones III, who checked in with a zero. PJ3, who played 30 minutes, led all Thunder scorers with 14. Once again, Hasheem Thabeet led all Thunder foulers with six in just over 16 minutes. Meanwhile, the Jazz, which leads the entire NBA in players named M. Williams, started both of them. Mo scored 15, Marvin 10, in identical 22:36 stints, the only amusing aspect to the box score.

And Enes Kanter, second-year Jazz center, was actually formidable, leading the bench with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 18 minutes. From the sound of things — no TV except for a dubious stream — Kanter managed to irritate Cole Aldrich no end in the fourth. (Aldrich had the only other double-double on the floor: 11 points, 10 boards.)

Scott Brooks, right about now, is trying to explain how you don’t win games shooting 37 percent. Or putting up 15 treys and hitting three. Not even against the Bobcats, who will be in town on Tuesday.

Comments off




Surrounded by words

Photo from Rebecca Black videoTwo Fridays ago, I learned that one of the two new songs on Rebecca Black’s concert setlist was an original called “In Your Words.” And that’s apparently the next single, because this week they shot the music video, and from the looks of things, they put her in a glass cage with a Sharpie. (She posted this picture to her Instagram account Thursday. Of course.)

Nobody except the little WordPress gizmo is actually keeping count, but this is apparently my 97th Rebecca Black-related post. If I’m really lucky, the video will come out for the 100th. Not that she owes me any favors or anything.

Comments (2)




The appearance of thrift

There are some among us who think it would be perfectly fine to keep filling GSA parking facilities with the last-generation Chevrolet Impala, which is dirt-cheap to buy yet is big enough to keep J. Random Bureaucrat from thinking he’s been consigned to a penalty box, no thanks to those ungrateful citizens.

Does this work in Israel? Kinda sorta:

50 Cabinet ministers, judges and high ranking police officials in Israel were offered the choice of a new state car this past summer, and had the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroën C5. 28 of the 50, mostly cabinet ministers, picked the Citroën after a significant public backlash surrounded the BMWs.

The Bimmer’s $30k-higher sticker was the official reason given, though Munich served notice that it was ready to deal. Apparently not a factor: the fact that said BMW was built in, um, Germany.

Comments (4)




The umble instrument

Trendwatching.com hath decreed for this month:

Yes, consumers are more demanding, time-starved, informed, and choice-saturated than ever-before (we know you know). For brands to prosper, the solution is simple though: turn SERVILE. This goes far beyond offering great customer service. SERVILE means turning your brand into a lifestyle servant focused on catering to the needs, desires and whims of your customers, wherever and whenever they are.

Um, no, it does not mean that. You don’t have to believe me, but you should definitely believe Nancy Friedman:

It isn’t a neutral term meaning “of service”; rather, it means “abjectly submissive,” “slavish,” “relating to servitude or forced labor.” Its synonyms are “obsequious,” “toadyish,” “sycophantic,” and “fawning.”

Not a positive association in the bunch.

See, for instance, “Check our monthly Servile Specials.” And does “ever-before” actually require a hyphen?

(Title courtesy of Uriah Heep. No, not the band.)

Comments (5)




Willing, and occasional won’ting

“The problem with these young fellows nowadays,” says Robert Stacy McCain, “is that young women don’t know how to play hard to get.”

They knew when I was young, but heck, I’m even older than RSM. Still, this seems fairly inarguable these days:

For a lot of kids, it starts in elementary school with the “boyfriend and girlfriend” game, and any boy that’s halfway cute has girls fawning all over him. (Ask the parents of boys how it is.) Even before there’s anything like actual sex involved, the boys get spoiled by all that female attention. It makes the boys arrogant and gives them an unfavorable impression of women generally as desperate, clinging, needy creatures.

I got my own wakeup call on Facebook one day, when a grandson, then well under FB’s ostensible age limit of 13, posted that he was, um, “in a relationship.” Seriously. Did I rat him out to his mom? You betcha. Now is the kid arrogant? Insufficient data at this time.

There is no reason women should be stuck-up — cruelly aloof and distant — but at the same time, a woman does not enhance the value of her companionship by chasing after men. A woman can be friendly and even flirtatious without being easy, and the most brilliant women are those who know exactly where to draw the line, who convey by their manner some sense of their own dignity.

I’ve known a few who met that criterion for “brilliant.” They were, of course, not the least bit interested in me, but then again, even those inclined to chase after guys were likewise lined up none deep on the porch.

Comments (6)




Fark blurb of the week

Comments (1)




The orange remains

Starting in 2009, the old-style license plates in this state were replaced with the new Sacred Rain Arrow design, though I was hoping for, um, something else.

Now Florida is about to toss its current plate design, but they have, um, other motivations:

Gone would be the county name designation and the “MyFlorida.com” motto. Also eliminated is raised lettering — deemed hard to read by electronic toll booths and red light cameras.

Gone too could be the state’s long use of prison labor to make the metal tags, as state highway department officials are proposing to put the plate contract out to bid for the first time in more than 30 years.

Julie Jones of the Highway Department figures this won’t cost much of anything:

Jones said the increased cost will be covered by millions of dollars the state expects to recoup from drivers now on the road with illegal or expired tags, who will have to pay up when they are forced to get the new plate.

In addition, from January to August, 2.8 million unreadable tags were reported by cities with red light cameras across Florida. At $150 per-ticket violation, a lot of cash potentially could flow into state and local government coffers, Jones said.

Vanity plates, which have their own separate revenue stream, will not be affected.

Comments (4)




The happiest of circumstances

When Trini was doing our hardware stuff, she’d occasionally assert that she had enough spare parts on hand to build a whole new (or used, actually) desktop box, and knowing her, I have no doubt that she was correct. There once was a time when I had enough computer parts on hand to do such a thing, but attrition has left me with three complete machines, none of them exactly au courant, and hardly any spares.

Still, I retain a certain admiration for this mindset, and Bill Quick exhibits it in a non-computer environment:

When I built my new Schwinn Paramount all-chrome, all-Campy Record single speed, I cannibalized most of the parts from my old Paramount frame.

So I was looking at it, and I got to thinking that I probably had enough spare parts lying around to build a whole new bike.

He did, too; the only things he bought new were the tires (twenty bucks apiece). Color me impressed.

Comments off




At least a 2-wood

Golfer Michelle Wie, who turns 23 today, has been playing the game for most of her life: she spparently started at age four, and in 2000 (at ten) she qualified for the Women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. The week before her sixteenth birthday, she announced that she was turning pro.

As anybody this side of Tiger Woods (which is just about anybody) can tell you, the darn ball doesn’t always go where you want it to:

Michelle Wie

It took rather a while for her to gain any serious traction as a pro, and a couple of hotly-hyped appearances in men’s tournaments didn’t really help her reputation. In three years on the LPGA tour, she’s won twice. Still, she’s only twenty-three.

Comments (2)




Available only in size OMGWTFBBQ

Scary Beautiful by Leanie van der Vyver and René van den BergThese are being billed as “the scariest shoes of all time,” and certainly the fright potential is there; I can imagine nightmares induced by this photo alone. The artist explains:

“After working in fashion for seven years, and therefore being well aware of the manipulation images in fashion suffer for a perfect result, I still compare myself to them and other current beauty ideals,” [Leanie] Van der Vyver told Yahoo! Shine exclusively. “My frustration with my own inability to overcome these feelings of inadequacy was what brought ‘Scary Beautiful’ into fruition. The shoes formed part of my graduation project that was a result of my thesis. The conclusion of my thesis investigation was that people are not satisfied with what they look like, and that perfection, according to the beauty and fashion standards, has reached a climax. Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves. Beauty is currently at an all time climax, allowing this project to explore what lies beyond perfection. Scary Beautiful challenges current beauty ideals by inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard.”

We might be playing God, but God has a four-run lead with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth.

Why, yes, they were offered to Lady Gaga. How did you know?

(“If I were a shoe blogger,” Syaffolee tweeted, “I think I’d just give it the OMGWTFBBQ tag and leave it at that.” Hence the title.)

Comments (9)




One of the earlier birds

Lileks was showing off some 1950s radios yesterday, and by golly, I had one of these:

Westinghouse 541T5 clock radio

This little darb dates to 1956; it was moved into my bedroom when the parental units got a Better One. Thirty bucks (about $250 today) for an AM radio that would actually switch on at a prescribed time. (If you wanted it to switch off, well, that was $5 more.)

Said Lileks of this design:

“Modern styling” means the face reminds you of TV and the letters are elongated to the point of absurdity.

And that includes the figures on the actual dial, except for the CONELRAD indicators at 640 and 1240. After a period of heavy use, the top of the case began to droop, the plastic unable to retain its shape after being exposed to all those vacuum tubes (five, including rectifier) for so long.

For that contemporary $250, you can buy a pretty decent AM radio that also gets FM. Assuming, of course, you have some reason to listen to radio.

Comments (2)




Bits of rust

It’s the preseason and therefore it doesn’t count; on the other hand, it’s the Rockets, and you don’t want to lose to the Rockets, even in the preseason. (Kevin McHale remembers things like this.) The Thunder were minus Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, which made for an interesting starting five: Cole Aldrich manning the middle, Lazar Hayward at the three and Kevin Durant playing power forward. Aldrich played longer than anyone — 33 minutes — but he seemed to lose his edge in the fourth quarter, and Houston’s Terrence Jones gave all the Thundermen a scare, rolling up 20 points from the bench and leading the Rockets to a 107-105 win.

It was good to see Eric Maynor back. And Hasheem Thabeet, who spelled Aldrich at center, used his 14 minutes to score ten points — and pick up six fouls. (Aldridge had five. Is it any wonder the Rockets went 27-35 from the stripe and the Thunder only 12-14?)

And, oh, yes, Lindividual effort. Jeremy put in 19 minutes, about what you’d expect from a preseason starter: he scored 3 but served up six assists. This Rockets team seemed methodical and poised at times when the Thunder obviously wasn’t. Still, it’s the preseason.

Comments off