Tue Jun 01 2004 13:50 PST Cruel Macros For Dear Friends:
In the BBS days there used to be a market for prank programs that you installed on your friends' computers without their knowledge, with hilarity inevitably insuing. Nowadays, shady software companies will install software on your computer without your knowledge, but it's not as fun. Those of us who run secure operating systems still do things the old-fashioned way, though we have to occasionally walk away away from our desks to make things easier for our well-meaning Mallorys.
In this spirit is Brian Fitzpatrick's broken-keyboard.el, which sneaks around your Emacs keybindings breaking one key at a time.
It's one for the ages, or at least all ages that have keyboards.
(2) Wed Jun 02 2004 05:55 PST A Winner Is Me:
Hurrah! I won the Checkerboard Nightmare contest, which means I get to control the content of Checkerboard Nightmare for a storyline's worth of strips. I may also be able to get Kris to draw some of the one-off strips for which I keep sending him scripts.
I'm surprised I wasn't disqualified for going to college with Kris, but since the 'contest' was actually just a thinly disguised auction there was little room for favoritism.
Wed Jun 02 2004 15:19 PST Leonard's Pop Science Minute:
7-million digit prime number discovered. Skulking between two 7-million digit composite numbers, no doubt.
Good tabloid-science headline: Origin of Enigmatic Galactic-center Filaments Revealed!
Accuracy not guaranteed.
Wed Jun 02 2004 21:03 PST:
For Sanil's benefit I cropped and put up pictures of the Kevin/Sanil/Leonard peace grove hike, but I haven't named the pictures yet so unless you like poking through directories full of unnamed files, you might be frustrated. But here's a special picture for Susanna, which I took while walking to the BART from North Beach.
(9) Wed Jun 02 2004 21:31 PST I wonder how they ship the sets?:
A Lego container ship: my fanboy fantasy? No, it's an official set! It's all brand-named and I like my Lego sets generic (I never even applied those NASA decals on my space shuttle set), but I'm thinking about getting it or at least giving broad hints that it would look nice on my desk. If there was room on my desk.
Lego and Maersk might have some Scandanavian corporate synergy; maybe the container ship set was a cross-promotional deal. Update: Looks like it's been going on for a while, along with other promotional tie-ins.
(2) Thu Jun 03 2004 20:13 PST It's WikiDay in June!:
I was waiting to announce this until I got reST support working, and then I got it working and it turns out reST support is way too slow, so for now I'm going to stick with the default syntax. I've set up a wiki for NewsBruiser, where I'm going to put all the documentation. NewsbruiserFans, if you could help out I'd greatly appreciate it, even if you just port existing documentation to the Wiki. I've already spent way too much time recently not working on NewsBruiser.
Fri Jun 04 2004 17:46 PST The Game Of Molas:
Apropos my longstanding quest for games in which you can play a mola mola, I have it on good authority that Parodius 2 lets you play a mola, and that a mola is a recurring character in the annoying Kirby series of Nintendo games for various platforms. I welcome this development, and hope that molas will infiltrate more games in the future. Now, stay tuned, as we bring you a Special Report You Can Bruise:
Parodius 2: An Unlikely Champion. Tonight, we'll trace this mild-mannered Gradius parody from its obscure origins, through development, to its current height of fake fame caused by its exploitation of the cheap button-pushing trick of letting you play as a mola mola. And whose idea was it to create a hagiographic documentary for a video game? Not even one anyone's ever heard of?! We pull no punches as we investigate our own sorry selves!
Coming up next: Kirby Kirby Kirby: An Unlikely Runner-Up.
Ok, back to fixing that NewsBruiser comment bug.
(1) Fri Jun 04 2004 23:09 PST Note About Old Paintings:
If you go to a place where they have a lot of old paintings, like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, notice that no one in the portraits shows their teeth. Because their teeth were all rotten! Man, that must have sucked. That reminds me, I have to go brush my teeth.
Incidentally, the Rijksmuseum is under renovation and has a sort of "greatest hits" exhibition going in two big rooms, so you can get a discount and a much quicker tour that gets all the famous stuff, at the expense of not being able to see the non-famous stuff that's often more interesting.
(3) Sat Jun 05 2004 08:43 PST Problems That Aren't That Interesting:
I decided to find the answer to the Tootsie Roll Pop-like question of how many moves it would take to move a chess piece to any given part of the chessboard. I don't know why I bothered because it didn't take long to find out that the problem is not that interesting. Every space on the chessboard is accessible from the standard starting position in at most three moves.
On the plus side, while seeing if anyone else had duplicated my puny results, I came across the awesome Trading Agent Competition, best described as Core Wars for those intelligent agents we hear so much about that look for the best prices online. In fact, that link deserves to be the star of this entry. Okay, I'll move this paragraph above the diagram so you'll see it. I couldn't find source for the agents, but here's an overview of the strategies employed.
And here's the chess diagram:
The only thing remotely interesting about that diagram is that it's not symmetrical, because of the positions of the king and queen.
Another chess-mentioning entry coming later today, if I write it.
(2) Sun Jun 06 2004 21:03 PST Cool Off:
Well, I didn't write it yesterday, but I'll write it today. My latest toy is my XM radio, which I bought to keep me sane coming back from Arkansas, and which I keep to keep me sane going to and from Bakersfield. It has already paid for itself since I no longer need to buy new CDs for every trip. I recommend it not if you do a lot of driving, but if there are specific days coming up where you're going do a lot of driving, and you dread those days.
Anyway, on one of the trips coming back from Bakersfield, what should be beamed down from the XM satellite but a song called "Cool Off", by New Orleans ensemble Galactic. It was nice, funky, jazzy. But it just went on and on. For minutes! And there were no words.
I don't know how much you know about me, random weblog reader, but I've got to have words with my music. When there are no words, I get cranky and I skip the track or change the station, or I start just making up words and belting them out. In this case the beat was groovin', so I made up words and had impromptu karaoke.
I was in me a boat crash
I crashed into the shore
Flew out of the cockpit
I wasn't drivin' that boat no more
You better cool off, cool off daddy,
Cool off daddy-O.
Cool off, cool off daddy,
Cool off daddy-O.
I was in me a chess match
Moved knight to queen's rook three
My opponent got angry
Started beatin' the tar out of me
"My name is Kulov, Kulov, daddy,
Kulov, world chess champion,
I was down me in Bolivia
Said some things made some people upset
That's when they pushed me against the wall
Offered me a last cigarette
You better cool off, &c.
Eventually the guy on the recording started thanking everyone for coming out tonight, so I assume the song was the last track on a live album and its purpose was to "cool off" the audience after a hot jam session. My words are still king, though.
Confidential to Jake: let me know if you're interested in laying down some jazz mix for my goofy lyrics, and I'll send you a vocal track. Think of it as like "What's A Godly Person?", except I know you're doing it.
Mon Jun 07 2004 22:55 PST NewsBruiser, Citoyen du Monde:
Thanks to persistent prodding from Jean-Pierre Chretien (not, despite appearances, the former prime minister of Canada), NewsBruiser now has an internationalization framework. It acts like gettext but it's not. I couldn't get gettext to do what I wanted it to do, and wrestling with gettext was costing valuable time that could be better spent sipping lemonade while my users do translations for me. Now that Jean-Pierre can translate in peace, I'm free to improve the framework or maybe even get gettext to do what I want. Jarno, the door is now open to the Finnish translation you wanted to do. I'd wait until Jean-Pierre finishes I18Ning all the bare strings, though.
Tue Jun 08 2004 15:23 PST I Demand Satisfaction!:
And I've got it, with McSweeney's insufferable list of alternate taglines for Punk'd.
Tue Jun 08 2004 20:55 PST Leonard Richardson Discovers Dinosaur Website:
When I was a little kid my father brought back from a business trip a novelty copy of the Las Vegas Sun that said in huge Pearl-Harbor type "LEONARD RICHARDSON DISCOVERS DINOSAUR". I was amazed at this (there is a picture in my scrapbook of me being amazed; Mom, is there any chance you could scan it/photograph it so I can use it as a visual aid?). I don't remember ever noticing the real-world narrative problems created by the existence of this newspaper: I hadn't actually discovered any dinosaur for the Sun to report on, and if there was some other Leonard Richardson who'd discovered dinosaur then the novelty of the newspaper was limited to a coincidence of names. I probably treated it like a newspaper from the future.
Well, my career plans changed and I'm not likely to discover any dinosaur soon, but I did discover this dinosaur news website fair and square. It's from National Geographic and it descends into software-bug or cross-promotional news that has nothing to do with dinosaurs, but up at the top are arrayed for my vicarious enjoyment all the dinosaurs other people, sweatier than myself, have been discovering. Artists' renderings and everything.
I'd like to see a nice concise expose of the dinosaur discovery pipeline where people find the bones, analyse them, write the paper for Nature, get the artists' renderings done. Who pays for the artists' renderings?
Also, can you still get those novelty newspapers done or has that racket been shut down by humorless lawyers, driving you to use desktop publishing or make fake CNN web pages?
(1) Wed Jun 09 2004 10:34 PST Strawberry/Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream:
I bought a bunch of strawberries thinking I would make that Italian dessert with strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Then I remembered how much I like strawberry ice cream and I decided to make strawberry ice cream instead--with balsamic vinegar! Ha! Here's the recipe:
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Macerate the strawberries in the juice/vinegar/vanilla for an hour. You can add any other flavorings you want; I tried a little almond extract because I have this huge thing of almond extract I bought and I'm trying to figure out what it's good for. Once it's good and macerated, add:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
Mix well. Smush with a fork or potato masher if you want. Put in an ice cream maker, and there you go. No cooking. Strawberry seeds are very small so you don't have to worry about seeds in the ice cream.
I have had the ice cream but I am not sure how it tastes. I just don't know! Is the balsamic vinegar good or bad for the flavor? Would it be better as just a standard strawberry ice cream? It's a very complicated flavor and I need more time to decide.
I think my final verdict will be it's good for small dishes on the veranda but not for big pints that you eat while watching Sex in the City and generally being a big stereotypical chick. Ususally I wait to post up a recipe until I know whether or not I actually like it, but Sumana is doing a taste test and she always wants me to have the recipe put up in advance.
Other recipes coming up: pestoast, vegetarian risotto.
 This is cook-speak for 'soak'. I don't know why there are so many cooking terms that mean the same thing. "Marinade" and "macerate" imply different types of soaking substances, but since you have to say what the soaking substance is, I don't know why they don't just say "soak" except in those really terse recipes that are really just descriptions like you see in those pocket French cookbooks: Strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar, made into ice cream. Here "vinegar" implies a marinade, but "macerated" makes you know that you have to add sugar and rare liquers and whatnot.
Wed Jun 09 2004 21:28 PST:
Today's a day I've been waiting for: at last, there is a user-contributed NewsBruiser plugin. Timo Virkkala's SummaryList plugin is a little mini-entry list that can go on every page on your NewsBruiser install. It is neat, and I didn't write it!
More NewsBruiser meta-stuff later.
(5) Wed Jun 09 2004 22:13 PST Movie Night:
Oh yes it's movie night, and the feeling's right. Well, it's IMDB night anyway. The feeling? Still right. Tonight's feature presentation: the Prohibition-era satire What Price Pants?
(4) Thu Jun 10 2004 21:52 PST Alto on Altoids:
Jake wrote a dada sampling program that makes old music new again. It's great if you like noise, and who doesn't? Well, I didn't, at first, but it grew on me. Good job, Jake. I would love to hear the gory details. Is it for technical or artistic reasons specific to the one work, or can you turn it loose on anything?
I almost said Jake's program worked in a Dissociated Press fashion. It doesn't, but I bet that would sound really neat. You could turn a music library into an insane never-ending medley by analyzing the waveforms, finding smooth transitions, and pasting together one-second chunks.
I was going to do a minor NewsBruiser release tonight, but it misbehaves really badly when you install it on Python 2.3, so I'll do it tomorrow.
Fri Jun 11 2004 08:27 PST:
My first Checkerboard Nightmare guest/commissioned strip is up. I'm making Kris draw the one-off strips I've sent him over the years, and then will come a storyline we're collaborating on. The current strip is actually based on a joke Kris and Kurtis did many years ago, so technically I forced him to draw his own joke.
The other two one-offs are all mine, and will reveal my tragic, George Lucas-esque dramatic overdependence on mysterious cloaked figures.
(2) Fri Jun 11 2004 22:35 PST Anole Analogy:
NewsBruiser bugfix release, named after the tenacious lizard that once hung from Alyson's ear. The importing stuff, in particular is a lot nicer; lots of Movable Type import bugs were fixed, I added real error handling and diagnosis to all the importers, and thanks to Zack there's now a generic Blosxom importer.
I want to start doing less work on NewsBruiser in the short term. I am about to move (for real this time) and I also want to go work on a tangential project. I'll try to spend one day a week on NewsBruiser, and I'll also try not to spend more than that on NewsBruiser.
(9) Sun Jun 13 2004 13:10 PST:
Doing a lot of shopping today in preparation for my move. I'm going to have the most awesome kitchen on Earth. To this end I have been buying specialized devices that allow me to destroy kitchens more awesome than mine. Some say I've gone too far. I disagree.
Mon Jun 14 2004 10:18 PST:
Leonard's obsessions collide (collude?) with Gambling on Voting, a comparative analysis of the security standards applied to slot machines and voting machines. Who will win?
I believe it was Shaw who said: "The voting machine pays nobody except him that designs it. Nevertheless, a passion for voting is common, though a passion for designing voting machines is unknown."
From Vice Squad, which mostly deals with vices that do not overlap with my obsessions.
(1) Mon Jun 14 2004 17:46 PST About half of my dreams are like that:
My new filtered-through Kris Checkerboard Nightmare is probably the best one you'll get from my tenure as co-author. Caution: contains swearing. Interestingly enough, for once I wrote it without any swearing and Kris made it blue. I mean, he turned Chex into Adam here.
"Hmmm... refreshingly cool!" has been my mental catchphrase for a while now, but for some reason it never turns out to actually be refreshingly cool.
(1) Mon Jun 14 2004 20:16 PST:
I was looking for biology geek recipes that mentioned the scientific names of the ingredients. I didn't find any, but I did find Cicada Recipe (which has, rather redundantly, both "How To Eat Cicadas" and "How To Prevent Tree Damage By Cicadas") and the Cicada-Licious cookbook (PDF), which says:
Eating bugs sounds disgusting? If you have ever eaten a crawfish, lobster, crab or shrimp then you have already eaten members of the class Arthropoda, of which insects are a part. So there.
Tue Jun 15 2004 19:16 PST Tofurkey Has Gone Too Far!:
Hey kids! Destroy your enemies by Making Graham Cracker Turkeys!
What? I had to make it exciting somehow.
At least they're not turkey Graham crackers.
(2) Wed Jun 16 2004 14:36 PST Anniversaries:
Four years ago today I graduated from UCLA. In the intervening time, I could have gone to college again! My classmates are now programmers, cartoonists, Ph.D. candidates, law school students, etc. Our various plans to take over the world with horrific man-bots have yet to see fruition.
Today is also the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday. At some point in the past few years I decided that I would spend today in Dublin being a middlebrow literary tourist. Well, that didn't work out either.
When I was 13 I got to page 72 of my mother's copy of Ulysses and then I found a copy of Finnegans Wake in a used bookstore and I never went back to Ulysses. From this you can figure out what it was I thought was interesting about Ulysses. I should try it again now.
(1) Wed Jun 16 2004 15:47 PST:
Long, retrospective Ars Technica interview with Scott Collins of the Mozilla Foundation, where he's quoted as saying "Well, you can't put 50 pounds of [crap] in a ten pound bag." Then later he says "I checked in stuff that broke the tree on two occasions and the same guy fixed my [crap] twice," except Ars Technica didn't censor it that time. I don't know, I just notice these things. This makes me think that they didn't censor it the first time and he said something obscure like "50 pounds of myxomitoxic bread."
(7) Thu Jun 17 2004 18:12 PST In bed:
For some reason I keep my fortune cookies for far longer than I should. Since I'm moving and since they're just text, I might as well inflict on you the ones I've kept and then get rid of the papers.
- "That special someone loves to see the look in your eyes."
- You will have good luck and overcome many hardships.
- Don't worry about money. The best things in life are free.
- Your work interests can capture the highest status or prestige.
- Take that chance you've been considering.
- Ask a friend to join you on your next voyage. Lucky numbers 4, 6, 21, 23, 40
The last two bookended my life's intersection with the Clark campaign.
The other thing about moving is it makes me tired and makes me write irrelevant cop-out NYCB entries like this.
(3) Sat Jun 19 2004 14:27 PST:
Almost entirely moved, but nothing's set up here except cable and Internet. I thought about setting up the bed and taking a nap, but I'd have to go back to my other house anyway for the sheets, so it's not worth it and I keep not doing it and getting more tired.
(7) Mon Jun 21 2004 17:05 PST Everything Permitted Is Compulsory:
I'm sure everyone who reads this weblog and lives in San Francisco is too cool to have a car, but maybe somebody can help me out. I moved from a street that has free parking to a street that requires a permit. It's going to take at least a month for me to get a permit, since you have to send them a copy of a utility bill to you at your new address, and then it takes 2-3 weeks for them to get back to you. Don't even get me started on how they want a copy of your vehicle registration at your new address when the DMV doesn't send you any acknowledgement of a change of address; you're supposed to write down your new address on a piece of paper and keep it near your driver's license. I don't know how that's going to go.
The point is I'm not going to have a permit anytime soon. Now, the purpose of the permits is to prevent people who don't live in a neighborhood from using the streets of that neighborhood as long-term parking. Since I live in my neighborhood, I'd be within the spirit of the law to park there.
My question is, how vigorously are the permit laws enforced? What is, realistically, my chance per unit time of getting ticketed if I just park in front of my house before I have my permit? Do the people who ticket you if you park on the wrong side of the street on street-cleaning day spend all the other days cruising the streets looking for permit violations? Or is the purpose of the law just so if someone parks their beat-up hippy van in front of your house and leaves it there for a month, you can call and complain and get it towed?
I'm leaning towards the latter explanation, due to the logistics of enforcement and the way the permit website seems to be written half for people who want to get a permit and half for people who want their street to require a permit so they can get rid of some specific non-native car-parker. I realize that you get ticketed for violating the letter of the law, not the spirit, but if I'm unlikely to face the consequences I might do it anyway. Yes, the moral decay of the kids these days, it's horrible.
The other thing I can do is just drive to work every day, taking my car out of the danger zone, since unpermitted parking is permitted on weekends. I don't really want to do that, though. Right now I've got my car parked on a nearby permit-free street. I've seen unpermitted cars parked on my street, so I don't know how big a deal this is.
(1) Wed Jun 23 2004 12:37 PST There is no Baum in Gilead:
Spammers like putting little snippets of literature in spam to evade filters. Maybe it's selection bias, but I've noticed a lot of the spammers are using the Gutenberg texts of the works of L. Frank Baum; both the Oz stories and his weird early-20th-century science fiction stuff. This has happened often enough that I'm starting to wonder if there's a bunch of Baum in the starter kit you get when you decide to become a spammer. Has anyone else noticed this?
Wed Jun 23 2004 19:15 PST:
Found some MP3s of a synth-orchestral arrangement of the music to the two coolest-music-having NES games: Kid Icarus and Metroid. This is not some fanboy project; it was an actual cassette tape released in the 80s by Hirokazu Tanaka, who wrote the music for the games, is now president of the company that makes Pokemon, and is a HotEA candidate if ever there was one.
Unfortunately it's hard to arrange for synths music originally written for different synths, so there's some unneccessary ornamentation in the tape tracks. Example: this version of the Metroid intro makes it feel like the opening music to a Jerry Bruckheimer film, rather than the creepy civilization-overrun-by-weeds dirge that fits in with the game. And there's a weird tooty synth patch that I'd only previously heard in actual video games trying to be cute. It's not cute, guys.
Incidentally, in addition to having the coolest NES game music, Kid Icarus and Metroid used the same game engine and were released on the same day. Metroid became a huge hit and remains a Nintendo cash cow; Kid Icarus, like its namesake, plummeted to a watery death. I certainly appreciate the greatness of Metroid, but sometimes I wonder what the world would be like it things had happened the other way around.
Thu Jun 24 2004 18:29 PST Leonard's Test Kitchen:
Now that I've got my own kitchen I can run science experiments without someone else throwing them out. I've got two batches of sourdough starter racing to starterdom. We'll see what the difference is between generic tame-yeast sourdough bread and old-fashioned Streptococcus sanfranciscus. Details as I actually get results instead of just stirring things and pouring in flour, which is boring.
Thu Jun 24 2004 21:21 PST:
Beautiful Soup is proving quite popular. Looking at people's weblog entries that mention it I'm seeing lots of other HTML parsers. So far the closest one to Beautiful Soup is pullparser. I say it's the closest because it has a tree traversal method--to me tree traversal has always been the most annoying part of screen-scraping. It's not as forgiving of bad HTML as Beautiful Soup, though (the second most annoying part of screen-scraping).
In conceptually related news, you might remember how a year or so ago I was obsessed with configuration interfaces. I even wrote a paper about them. Well, today Anthony Baxter talks about his client-side GUI implementation of a configuration interface.
(3) Fri Jun 25 2004 11:17 PST High-larious Fake Marijuana Names:
I started making these up and got from Sumana the mix of laughter and I-can't-believe-I'm-laughing-at-this that satisfies both my urge to entertain people and my urge to force my will on people. So I couldn't stop. Probably inspired by The Poor Man's fake movie schedule, here are my best:
- Smokey O'Doob
- T.H.C. Butz
- Kim Bong Il
- Rolo Mellowman
- Potsy McJoint
- Hemprey Bogart
Fri Jun 25 2004 14:58 PST And Another Thing:
I always complain to Seth that bad laws get passed and laws get passed with stupid loopholes because the people who draft the laws think "This brilliant law will solve our problem!" and don't think about attacks that use that very law for some undesirable purpose. The way good programmers think about hostile-user attacks against every design and implementation decision they make.
I know what you're thinking: "Great, another hacker trying to use the hammer of technology to hit the non-nail of law. Also, he has poor personal hygiene!" Well, hear me out before you judge, hoo-mon. My personal hygiene is actually quite good, and look at this
hypothetical complaint constructed by the EFF to demonstrate how awful and exploitable is Orrin Hatch's INDUCE (now IICA) bill. I'm sure my prattling to Seth had nothing to do with this, but it is the perfect example of what I was talking about.
Note that in a twist rarely seen in the technical realm, sometimes the people writing the law are actually using the law as cover to enable some new attack. In that case it's even more important for outside reviewers to find and expose the backdoor in the law. Also, all laws should be written in my Leibnitzian Python wonder-language that contains no ambiguity.
 Leonard's Analogue to Leonard's Analog[sic] to Brooks' Law: "Renaming a bad law makes it worse."
(4) Sat Jun 26 2004 06:39 PST Endorsement:
Let me heartily endorse Alton Brown's recipe for chocolate mousse. It uses gelatin instead of egg protein to thicken the mousse, which means you can't serve it to someone who doesn't eat gelatin (I guess you could use agar-agar), but which also means it's about three times easier to make than the standard Joy of Cooking one with the eggs. (Actually, I should try that one again.)
Sat Jun 26 2004 08:51 PST:
Testing NewsBruiser's newfound use of Ping-O-Matic, the long-awaited (by me) service that offloads the work of pinging the myriad of weblog aggregation services that spring up like mushrooms in the wake of a Mushroom Creation Scroll. Found via Ned Batchelder.
(7) Sat Jun 26 2004 11:24 PST Waffling:
Still having hard-to-diagnose problems with Ping-O-Matic. Good thing I have more food stuff to write about.
I made banana-buttermilk waffles today, and they were a big hit. I thought about making banana-buttermilk-cornmeal waffles but I don't know how many adjectives you can pile on "waffles" before the waffles start to fall apart. I got a Belgian waffle maker as part of my getting-a-kitchen shopping spree; Belgian waffles are the least soggy and I can't stand soggy waffles. My particular waffle maker is designed to be flipped over after you put in the batter, in an obsessive bid to spread around the air bubbles and prevent any possible sogginess. My kind of waffle maker!
The waffle maker instructions say to put chili on top of a waffle and have it for lunch. I guess that could work. Seems like the gateway to waffle obsession, though.
(1) Tue Jun 29 2004 09:33 PST:
You may have noticed by now that I am something of a connoisseur of spam. While others wish it would go away and hope their filters will hide it from them forever, I collect it in underground vats slowly stirred by giant ice cream machine-style blades. Sometimes I tromp down the rickety metal stair to see what monstrosities have emerged from the deep.
But spam was quite boring before about 2000, and it would still be boring were it not for the Wacky Racers type race between spammers and spam filter authors. Lately the spammers have been having a rough time of it due to the invention by anti-spam scientists of the text-analysis spam filter. The Bayesian filter is the best-known example of this, but there are other methods of text analysis. To try to foil these filters spammers have had to make their spam weird and interesting by mutilating it and adding random elements which by amazing coincidence oft make the spam sound like the death rattle or final King Lear insanity of the spammer.
And yet--why should I be at the mercy of lowly spammers for my entertainment? In my day we made our own fun. "My day" being yesterday, when I made my own fun in the form of the "with a side of spam" filter for the Eater of Meaning. Now I can make any web page look not like I requested it but like there was a concerted attempt to smuggle it to me under false pretenses.
This Eater uses the same text-mangling tricks found in real spam to destroy meaning not as effectively as most of the other Eaters, but more effectively than last year's "scramble all but the first and last letters" insta-fad. Could it be turned to an evil purpose and used to create real spam? Probably not, because the results are too hard to read. Any piece of real spam chooses a few anti-filter tactics and has thematic consistency. A bouquet, if you will. Okay, you won't.
Tue Jun 29 2004 13:07 PST It's Not Easy Being Greek:
Sumana pointed me to a NYT article with extracts from various adaptations of The Frogs, my favorite play of antiquity. It got remade in 1974 to be about Shaw instead of Euripedes, and then (news hook) the remake itself got remade and will open in July. It's more relevant than ever for the Greek god of drama to go into hell to resurrect a dead dramaturge! Gah.
I really like the idea of trying to resurrect Shaw in a The Frogs scenario, but look at those excerpts. You can actually see the play get less funny with each remake. (I am not a total purist; I think those attempts to translate the Greek puns are awful.) I bet the frogs in the most recent version all look like Michigan J. Why not just make a new play about Shaw that pays homage to The Frogs? (I know, name recognition).
Wed Jun 30 2004 11:30 PST Mene, mene, tekel, uparsin cognate cunard pronounce bimonthly:
Kris got religious spam that includes a sample prayer which trails off into anti-spam-filter text. Kevin said "That's glossolia, is what that is." It made me think of a religion that believes God has a spam filter and you need to say a bunch of random words at the end of your prayer to get it heard.
Wed Jun 30 2004 16:12 PST Someone Write This Paper:
"MIDI Files As Weapons"
(1) Wed Jun 30 2004 17:38 PST Weird Warnings:
"Burn on a temperature safe surface." Oh no! None of my surfaces are rated for having temperature!
Not related to this definition of "temperature safe" (ie. "safe temperature"). Also, don't inject drugs into your friends' beer. It's no safety!
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