And he wasn’t even under the bridge

A man decides to track down a particularly hateful troll, with unexpected results:

In July I was approached by a friend, who’s basically an IT genius, and he offered some help. He said that he could trace the hackers and trolls for me using perfectly legal technology, which would lead to their IP addresses. I said yes. Then I baited them — I was deliberately more provocative toward them than ever I’d been before…

It transpired that the abuse had emanated from three separate IP addresses in different corners of Ireland. Two of them were public wifi locations but the third …

The third location was the interesting one.

The third location was a friend’s house.

The Troll was his son. His 17yr old son.

The friend’s reaction:

He was horrified at what his son had done. Horrified, but not surprised. He wanted to call the authorities there and then and turn him in. But I said no.

More than usual, I urge you to Read The Whole Thing.

(With thanks to Joy McCann.)

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Infinite battery backup not included

I’ll bet someone’s working on a story about this even now:

Researchers have now proposed an experimental design for a “space-time crystal” that would be able to keep time forever. This four-dimensional crystal would be similar to conventional 3D crystals, which are structures, like snowflakes and diamonds, whose atoms are arranged in repeating patterns. Whereas a diamond has a periodic structure in three dimensions, the space-time crystal would be periodic in time as well as space.

Eternal clocks! How do they work?

[T]he scientists would aim to create a ring of charged particles, with the resulting electromagnetic forces causing the structure to rotate perpetually. At its lowest quantum-energy state, also known as its ground state, the system has no disorder, or entropy, and there is no way for its entropy to increase over time. Thus, the crystal’s temporal structure and timekeeping ability would continue even after the universe reached a state of “heat death,” also known as thermodynamic equilibrium, when it had devolved into entropy.

Alfred Centauri finds this concept just slightly risible:

[E]ven if we allow for the possibility that the universe, which is everything, could cease to exist, there would be nothing. If in fact, there is anything, including an alleged eternal clock, then there is something and thus a universe in which it exists.

Star Trek: The Next Generation agrees, obliquely:

Dr. Crusher: Computer, what is the nature of the universe?
Computer: The universe is a spheroid region, 705 meters in diameter.

If the clock is all there is, the universe must be the clock, n’est-ce pas?

Still, I predict that (1) there will be a story and (2) somehow Twilight Sparkle will be involved.

(While I was finishing this up, WordPress was suggesting tags. Somehow tagging something “universe” seems illogical; shouldn’t everything be tagged “universe”?)

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Being needled

Two, four, six, eight, why can’t someone calibrate?

Screenshot from Yahoo! Answers - How come my car says it can go up to 140 but I can only go up to 80

For some reason, Toyota Celicas seem to invite this question.

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Bent tracks

“Human train wrecks,” Mark Butterworth calls them, and “they’re too wrenching to enjoy anymore.” As examples, he cites Billie, Janis, Judy, Piaf and the Lizard King.

I’m not so sure. I threw in those abbreviated references because I figure all of you would immediately recognize them anyway. And the recordings they made, pretty much all of which are still in print after all these years, don’t necessarily evoke memories of their sad lives — at least not for me. But your mileage may vary, as Mark’s obviously did:

They are very compelling at the moment, but when that moment passes, they are hard to take. It’s as if in retrospect you want to yell at them “Get a therapist, for God’s sake! You don’t have to be this effed up. Your pathos is really pathetic and turning into bathos. Smell the coffee, plant some roses, do a jigsaw puzzle, but geez, get off your favorite subject — your misery ought to be everyone else’s, too. Let’s all slit our wrists together.”

If I yell at anyone, it’s likely to be the subject of a song by the late Harry Chapin, who had a knack for personalizing human train wrecks. Your attention is directed to “Sniper,” a tale of a tower gunman not unlike Charles Whitman. It’s compelling and frightening and fictional. Mostly.

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Version downdate

You may have seen me kvetching about iTunes 10.7 yesterday on Twitter. Here’s the scoop from a soul even more anguished:

As soon as i downloaded the 10.7 update on Itune, music skips and stutter!! what caused it???

I reinstalled Itune and restarted the computer and nothing has worked!!! DEF its not the space, i got the 1.5 terabyte LOL…

When i got the updates, I clicked on it and nothing happened!! i had to go on Apple website and download the update from there!

As it happens, trying to roll back to 10.6 fails, because Apple decided this would be a really cool time to change the iTunes database, and 10.6 won’t read the 10.7 .itl file.

The suggested fix — jack up Priority in Task Manager to Above Normal — is no fix at all, since (1) you have to do it every time you reboot and (2) not even High was sufficient to alleviate the problem on my work box.

And that isn’t even the weirdest part of it. I tried to bring up iTunes on the home box — smaller library — and up pops a box: “iTunes cannot run because some of its required files are missing. Please reinstall iTunes.” I’d installed 10.7 there ten days ago without incident. I’m starting to believe this particular version is snakebit.

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Approved by Mr. Moose

And Bunny Rabbit nods in agreement.

Neither Mentos nor Diet Coke were used in this presentation.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Burn it to the ground

GraphJam reports:

Things the Internet hates

If Chad Kroeger ever starts his own church, we are in deep kimchi indeed.

Note: The original title on GraphJam was “No Comic Sans?”

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Hardware deceleration

I complained about a week ago about random system lockups, which have ceased since I performed the following steps:

  • Opened the tower halfway, on the basis that overheating could be a contributing factor;
  • Turned off hardware acceleration in Firefox.

There was a fringe benefit to the latter: Firefox actually seems to run faster with this function disabled.

Nor am I the first to notice this:

This may be counter-intuitive, but many users are reporting that hardware acceleration can have a negative impact on Firefox’s performance. The fix didn’t noticeably affect my installation so perhaps it depends on your OS, graphics card, drivers or other factors.

And this was way back in Version 6, nine “major” releases ago.

For the record, I have an Nvidia GeForce 6600 with 256 MB of RAM onboard. At the time — that would be 2006 — this was a slightly-short-of-high-end card; today, of course, it is Old News.

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Ewww, a girl!

An abstract for your consideration:

Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science. In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student — who was randomly assigned either a male or female name — for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant.

This is not, incidentally, a case of the Good Old Boys ganging up on a woman, either. From the Data Supplement:

We then explored whether additional variables might interact with participants’ subtle preexisting bias against women to predict their reactions to the target students. Separate models adding faculty participant gender, age, science field, tenure status, each two-way interaction, as well as the three-way interaction of each demographic variable with student gender condition and faculty participant gender (to rule out participant gender differences) revealed no significant novel predictors (all β < 0.38, all P > 0.28). This finding suggests that faculty participants’ gender attitudes themselves played a role in undermining support for the female (but not male) student, and that the impact of these gender attitudes does not appear to vary as a function of participants’ other demographic characteristics, including their gender. Consistent with other results, it appears that female as well as male faculty members’ negative attitudes toward women undermined their support for the female student, irrespective of their age, science field, and career status.

There’s always, it seems, someone willing to perpetuate the status quo, be it good, bad or indifferent.

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)

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In the middle of decomposition

Link rot has always been a fact of life on the Web; things get moved, other things get removed, and as the age of any given link increases, so does the probability of being thrust into 404ville.

I generally appreciate being informed of a dead link, but if it’s six years old, the point of diminishing returns has long since been left in the dust. Just the same, I got an email from one of those social-media whiz kids pointing out that a service to which I’d linked, the mobile social network Dodgeball, is now the former mobile social network Dodgeball, having been supplanted by Google Latitude, which nobody uses anyway because they’ve all checked in on Foursquare.

The whiz kid, of course, suggested that I replace the dead link with a link to her site, which presumably was the whole point. I didn’t.

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Fundamental imbalance

The eminent CripesSuzette has tweeted:

My old FB account says I have 19 “likes”. I don’t even like 19 things in real life.

I am embarrassed to report 109 “likes,” though evidently not embarrassed enough to refrain from mentioning it here.

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That’s an awful lot of books

I have no idea how long the Hot Librarian stereotype has been, as the young folks say, a Thing, but clearly it existed back in 1965:

1965 Hanes ad

Now if someone will kindly explain to me where we’re supposed to get liquid chiffon. (No, not the stuff in the tub; we don’t want to tick off Mother Nature.) There exist two more ads in this series, with different photos but identical text.

I must also point out that Globe Hopper has come up with a variation that, she says, promotes intelligence, and we all could use more of that.

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The faintest of torches

I heartily endorse this practice, even though there is no way on God’s green earth that I’d ever do it myself:

Sandy Crocker, of British Columbia, just took a trip to Ireland in July 2011, but he has gone back for another four weeks to try to track down a woman that he met at a County Clare cafe during his last trip.

On July 9, 2011, Crocker met the one. He just didn’t realize it until it was too late. Crocker stopped at the An Teach Bia cafe in Ennistymon with his family to grab a bite to eat before heading to the popular Cliffs of Moher. Crocker spotted the woman at the cafe and stopped her to ask for direction to the Cliffs before she left. The two had a brief conversation.

And that was the last he saw of her. The next day he flew back to Canada, but he never stopped thinking about her:

“My breath was taken away to the point of near suffocation … She was gentle, graceful, the kind of girl who would enter a shoe store and leave with brown boots, [whose] mother probably thought blue glass was pretty and still collectible.”

It’s not like I’ve never heard of this thing happening before, either:

The trick about the town of Brigadoon, you may remember, is that it’s not always there: the enchantment that preserves it does so by bringing it to life only once every hundred years, thereby making sure it’s not influenced by contemporary evils. Which means that when Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) falls hard for one of the town girls, he’s faced with the sort of choice you wouldn’t give Hobson: either he stays with her, thereby giving up his life in this world, or he returns to New York and never gets another shot. I remember yelling at the screen: “You fool! Go back to her!”

Not that I’d ever take my own advice, of course:

I hit the gymnasium first, quite by accident, and a kindly member of the athletic staff — like so many faculty members, he’s also an alumnus, in this case from 1972 — gave me The Tour. I didn’t recall too many names from ’72, with the notable exception of the young lady I sort of almost dated, and it seemed rather pointless to volunteer her name, so I didn’t. The gym is twice as big as the old one, and perhaps more important, so is the library. And with a student body roughly the same size as it was thirty years ago, the new staff (which, I note with delight, includes some of the old staff) should have a far easier time of it.

I thanked my guide and got back into my car and mused for a moment. A moment too long, as it turned out; once I got the car started, I spun around to look for traffic, and there was a woman in a Nissan Altima waiting for me to vacate the space. I rolled down the window to apologize for making her wait, and she smiled at me, and by the time I got off Daniel Island I remembered where I’d seen that face before. And I swear, it could have been the aforementioned young lady I sort of almost dated.

Were I the sort of person I’m supposed to be, or that I think I’d like to be, I would have done a 360 180 in the middle of the Mark Clark Expressway and gone back to ask. But being the sort of person I am, I kept going and didn’t say a word.

Perhaps I’ve learned my lesson, but that’s probably not the way to bet.

And speaking of bets, a UK bookmaker quotes the odds on Crocker’s finding his dream colleen:

U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes, Ireland, assigned 50/1 odds on Mr. Crocker marrying the mystery lady, giving it a 4/5 chance that she is already married. “It’s definitely a long shot travelling 8,000 kilometres to woo an anonymous Irish girl with red hair and freckles, but there’s a good chance Sandy could steal another Irish lady’s heart during his visit, so we’re offering 10/1 that he meets his future wife here,” said Ladbrokes spokeswoman Hayley O’Connor.

A likely story.

(Suggested by the Instant Man.)

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Slog control

Last year’s NBA season was shortened to 66 games as a result of the lockout, and asked several coaches about this coming season’s return to normalcy. Only one — George Karl of the Nuggets — was willing to suggest that he’d didn’t really mind having fewer games to deal with:

I’m sure Commissioner Stern won’t like this, but I think the product would be better if we shortened the season. When we start playing in late October, the people are thinking football. If you could just get us less fatigue [in a shorter season], I think you’d have a better product. When they started on Christmas Day, I thought, “This is not a bad idea. This should be the start of NBA basketball … Maybe start Dec. 1 and play 62 games, whatever number they’d come to.”

I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I wouldn’t object to, say, a 76-game season starting the day after Election Day. (Four against each of four division rivals = 16; three against each of ten other conference rivals = 30; two against each team in the other conference = 30.) Still, football continues to creep later into the fall, and I suspect it is the policy of the major sports leagues to ignore, to the extent possible, each other’s existence. So 82 it is, for the foreseeable future.

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Strange search-engine queries (347)

And a gracious good Monday morning to you all, as we present a week’s worth of screwy search strings that led unwary Web surfers to this very site. No wagering, please.

whose fault is this!  When in doubt, blame San Andreas.

nude hosiery for 40 women:  Hot as it was this past summer, probably only 25 of them actually wore the stuff.

home depot false accuse shoplift:  More often, they swipe it from Lowe’s, and then try to return it at the Home Depot.

maureen dowd is a bitter old maid:  She’s hardly a maid.

i wanna see the invisible woman (1983):  But you can’t, and I shouldn’t have to explain why.

anatomically correct replica of 50-year-old non-smoker’s rag heart:  Raggedy Ann is 97 this year, and I don’t think she’s ever even dipped snuff.

“getting used to” thong:  Experiment with about twenty yards of dental floss.

bad erth quaks:  Bad enough to shake your ability to spell, I assume.

Why is Sherilyn Fenn so old:  It’s her birth date. Darn thing just won’t move forward.

postal annex Portland uh the gray wolf mean it’s stupid:  On the other paw, no gray wolf has ever come up with a search like that.

Ragaa. List some of the malicious things Trudy can do from this position:  I’m kind of hoping she turns you into a gray wolf and mails you to Portland.

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Routine Mittigation

Graphic from Page One, 9-23-12The Oklahoman and the Washington Examiner have been under common ownership for some time, and occasional Examiner editorials have been reprinted, usually in the second position, on the Oklahoman editorial page. Both papers have been enthusiastic, possibly even fervent, supporters of Mitt Romney. (In other news, there are enthusiastic, possibly even fervent, supporters of Mitt Romney.) This weekend, we were treated to a 10-part, 12-page supplement of Examiner articles on Barack Obama, titled The Man Behind the Image, which contains nothing I think of as being particularly incendiary; if you’ve been paying attention all along, you already knew all these things, and you’ve either filed them away for future reference or dismissed them as irrelevant.

There is, however, a punchline: the promo for the supplement, as it appeared in the newspaper’s Page One sidebar, describes it as “A special report from The Washington Examiner in today’s comics package.” Make of that what you will.

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