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Take our snow, please...

This eBay auction, spotted in rec.humor.funny, might be just what you're looking for, if you long for those nice white wintry evenings, back up north.

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 04:26 p.m. by jra


Turnabout is fair play...

[Insert Lawyer joke here].

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 04:02 p.m. by jra


If selling is legal...

why did this story need to be written?

The first question, of course, is why she got into this business. A routine exploration of her background does not turn up any obvious clues--it's certainly hard to make the case that Lisa is any kind of victim. She grew up in an upper middle-class family in the Portland area. Her parents are professionals. She was not abused as a child, has never been sexually assaulted and doesn't do drugs.

Because we still live in a Puritan country, regardless of how hard we try to deny it -- or change it. As far as I'm concerned, the sexual revolution is over: we lost.

In the 50s and 60s, ok, so maybe lots of people broke the rules. This is not a sign that the rules are bad, and should be disposed of. At least there were rules, so everyone knew when you were breaking the damn things.

[ From wetlog. ]

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 02:41 p.m. by jra


And, as if...

Zannah's entry on the topic of masturbation wasn't enough for you, we now have Flutterby's take: "Why wanking to a porn film is better than watching the State of the Union Address".

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 02:19 p.m. by jra


If your ass isn't too small...

maybe you need it kicked.

[ From GirlHacker. ]

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 10:52 a.m. by jra


What will they think of next?

From my friend Johanna: The Tai-Chia Pet, spotted at thegoodnamesweretaken.com. And no, I am not making that domain name up.

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 10:38 a.m. by jra


Microsoft? Lie on a Benchmark? Naw...

From Inessential, the weblog of Brent Simmons, the webmaster for Dave Winer's Userland, this article from The Register -- a publication that, based on some comments overheard aroung the net, I'm not sure what confidence factor you should place on them.

The story concerns Win2K, and whether it's really faster than NT4 or not.

Make your own decision.

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 10:31 a.m. by jra


Uncontrollable sobbing

From Wes Felter's excellent, though technical (he's a CS major; whad'ja expect?) Hack The Planet (Prime), this article from sendmail.net concerning the care and feeding of port 25.

But, but ... I had FEATURE(blacklist_recipients) and I had FEATURE(rbl) and I had the sacrificed goat laid in a circle of candles in front of the server, just as the FAQ suggests. Yet spam was still pouring through my host like Jolt through a coder with bladder issues. Eventually, I ended up shutting down port 25 altogether, which gave me time for that uncontrolled sobbing I'd been meaning to get to.
Fun piece; if sendmail is your responsibility, you really should be following the entire site.

Friday, January 28, 2000 @ 10:20 a.m. by jra


Guest Rant: NATPE

Submitted by my friend Alan, who got it in an unattributed newsletter:

EDITOR'S NOTE:
I just came back from a short trip to New Orleans, where I attended NATPE: the National Association of Television Program Executives. Inside the convention center, is probably the largest concentration of shallow weasels on cell phones on the planet. Everyone walks while talking on their cell phone. Half of them now have little mikes clipped to their jackets so they can hand out their business card, hold a drink, scratch their crotch and talk on the cell phone to someone else doing exactly the same thing on a street of Buffalo. The aisles were full of booths selling everything from cooking shows, to supermodels saving the planet, to animated mutant mice supermodels saving the planet. (although, if they see the cultural legacy we're building on this planet, they may change their minds)

From my strolls down these surreal aisles it appears there is a formula that the networks look for before they will consider buying these new shows:

  • Three nutty, but sensitive women under the age of 20 with huge breasts and no brains.

  • Two men under the age of 22 with great hair and no brains.

  • One wacky grampa/uncle/next door neighbor.

  • One smart-ass little kid you want to strangle.

  • No plot.

    With the number of cable and satellite channels expanding daily, a handful of these shows actually will make it to air, although the percentage that survive more than one season is about .000001%. Which is actually good for the producers, as they now have a shot at selling that other, completely different and much better show they have in the works which features:

  • Three nutty, but sensitive women under the age of 20, with huge breasts and no brains.

  • Two men under the age of 22 with great hair and no brains.

  • One wacky old grampa/uncle/next door neighbor.

  • One smart-ass little kid you want to strangle.

  • No plot.

    In the words of the great Hunter S. Thompson: "The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs".

    -Adrian Raeside

  • Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 10:23 p.m. by jra


    Cheap, gratuitous plug

    My model friend Rebecca is working on a new CD-ROM. If you enjoy looking at beautiful women in various stages of undress, then go check it out. And tell them I sent you; I can use all the brownie points I can get...

    And if you don't, well... don't.

    [ Note: (updated 0946 28Jan) I see that the Windows slideshow player is no longer an issue... :-} ]

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 10:02 p.m. by jra


    A little side point I meant to make

    One other side effect of the whole "buying on price" thing is that it affects the usability of the web: if people were less prone to select products solely on delivered price, vendors would be more likely to make the collection of prices for comparison shopping easier.

    At the moment, they are, in the delightful MBA phrasing, 'negatively incented' to do that.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 09:55 p.m. by jra


    Uh, uh; not in my space program

    From Wired News, a story that isn't apparently quite as scary as I thought it was when I read it: Army/NASA Merger urged.

    Apparently, NASA and the Army are the people doing the urging. I'm not real happy about this idea... Posse Comitatus is the least of the potential problems.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 09:19 p.m. by jra


    A collection of silly -izers

    Cam pointed out The Malkovich-izer, for those of you who just didn't get enough of Being John Malkovich when that movie was in your local theater. That reminded me of The Dialectizer, which I see I also got from Cam ...

    This reminded me of the JarJar-gonizer. I'd have pointed that at a page too, but apparently the guy who runs it is either a) an amateur programmer, or b) he's scared, because c) he made it a CGI with a POST... so I can't link to a specific site directly.

    There's a website mirror-imager around somewhere, too, but that bookmark is in the wrong place. No doubt someone out there knows where the thing is.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 08:28 p.m. by jra


    In Memoriam

    Jerry reminds us:

    On this day in 1967, Virgil Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in a flash fire in their Apollo I capsule.

    An old military toast:

    "Here to us, and those like us.

    Damn few left, and most of those are dead."

    Amen.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 06:03 p.m. by jra


    Rant: You don't get what you don't pay for.

    Everyone always phrases that the other way: you get what you pay for. But, sometimes you don't even get that.

    This comes up partly because of one of the questions in a Slashdot interview with VA Linux Systems' Larry Augustin.

    The question in question (:-) was

    Every time I need to buy a computer (for self or business) I check out VA Linux Systems. But your prices are always $500-$1000 higher than even the Microsof-tax laden goods from someone like Gateway or Dell. Is this all due to volume discounts or is there something else at work?

    Larry's answer:

    First of all it is not our intention to be the lowest cost source of a box. We're not just selling a box. Typically we're selling a great deal of service and support around the box, and in the end the customer gets a better value as a result.
    which is true, and not just "as far as it goes". A later comment, by Technos, continues the theme:
    For someone who is looking at a 100% uptime box it does make a difference.. And Augustin is right, they overengineer to death! Powersupplies often double the required wattage, extra case fans, fans on the drive rails, cable routing clips, bigger heatsinks, hi-grade cables, and everything burned way beyond norm. If you can deal with slight interruptions like bad cables, memory error, don't buy VA. But I can honestly say the party that uses that VA is oh so very happy with it..

    And this makes my point even more clearly.

    Americans in particular seem to me to have developed an overriding "give it to me as cheaply as possible" approach to everything. Most notably, we want to fly non-stop from NY to LA for $99, and we're surprised when the plane is dirty, the food crappy, and the flight late. Why are we surprised at this? We told the airline we didn't care about anything except getting the lowest price.

    The worst part, is, of course, that if we continue to shop solely on price, those vendors who are willing to wait around for the rare customer who does not shop solely on price will go out of business.

    The public company merger mania contributes to this, as do corporate boards that emphasize raw bottom line -- not, legally, that they have any choice in the matter, but mostly, it's us, unpleasant as that is.

    If you're not willing to pay for it, don't expect to get it.

    And don't expect any sympathy at all when you bitch about it.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 05:32 p.m. by jra


    Masturbation Considered Harmful

    /usr/bin/girl spotted this page, detailing the 'evils of masturbation' (or, as they say it on Usenet, "masterbation" :-), and how to avoid them. I can't improve on her choice of pull quotes:

    3. Certain food. If we outlaw dildos and require that all sausages, cucumbers and carrots be sold pre-sliced, we will make it much easier for the women among us to resist the temptation to Masturbate.

    Now. My take on this site, since we've just been through the whole 'Cam and the Parodies' situation, is that it's probably the same sort of heavy- (some might say ham-)handed parody that Landover Baptist Church's website is (I don't think this is a slight on Zannah; she didn't seem to be expresing an opinion either way...)

    But it's ok: Jocelyn Elders made it okay to say 'masturbation' in public, and Monica Lewinsky made it acceptable to talk about blowjobs, so what the hell...

    Of course, maybe we shouldn't ask Zannah how she found this link...

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 04:05 p.m. by jra


    Oh, for the love of ghod...

    Kids aren't allowed to HUG?

    What ARE these people thinking?

    [ Thanks to /usr/bin/girl (a killer name, BTW, Zannah)... and damn, the stupid things you'll do when your blood sugar is low. link fixed here, too. ]

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 12:55 p.m. by jra


    Been a bad little boy or girl?

    Arrest yourself.

    If you witness a crime, it is your civic duty to report the crime to the police.

    When a crime is committed, you have the right and responsibility to make a "Citizen's Arrest".

    Thus, if YOU commit a crime, it would be extremely helpful (and provide a savings of tax dollars) for you to perform a Citizen's Self-Arrest.

    [ Thanks to Jason's Running Tally , and to Eric who noticed that I forgot to put in the link on this entry. This will be a column in next months' edition of Duh Magazine. ]

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 12:24 p.m. by jra


    Yet Another Internet Parody

    Those who were on the weblogger's IRC chat last night know that there's a running fuss over whether Cam Barrett overreacted to Neale's wetlog, designed in parody of the usability guru, Jakob Neilsen's, website.

    Cam apparently missed the humor, and everyone's been ribbing him about it -- some a bit too hard, which is not going to make it any easier for him to change his mind, BTW, guys -- but it's had the expected effect: a parody of his site.

    We have the same guy to thank for this (sorry, not quite up to snuff) parody of a story from the Onion, which only people with certain senses of humor will appreciate...

    [ A late update: it would appear that the fracas has subsided, based on some links on Cam's log yesterday. whew... ]

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 11:48 a.m. by jra


    Buffy? A Virgin?!

    So says this EOnline piece. This link will probably break, because the people running the site are morons, and I can't give you the usual pull quote, because the people running the site are [male genital expletive deleted]'s, as well.

    Just click, if you're a Buffy fan (Hi, Beth and Lilly :-).

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 11:42 a.m. by jra


    Everything you ever wanted to know about copyright.

    I do so love Jerry Pournelle's mailbag.

    When you write copy, you own copyright on the copy you write, if the copy is right (and if if the copy is not right.) If however, your copy falls over, you must right your copy. If you write religious services you write rite, and you own a copyright for the rite you write. Very conservative people write right copy, and own copyright for the right copy they write. A right wing cleric would write right rite, and owns copyright for the right rite he has the right to write. His editor has the job of making the right rite copy right before the copyright can be truly right. Should Thom Wright decide to write right rite, then Wright would write right rite, for which Wright owns copyright. Duplicating that rite would copy Wright right rite, and infringe copyright, which Wright would have the right to right. Right?

    I especially liked the legal disclaimer at the bottom:

    This electronic message transmission contains information from the law firm of Lipton, Weinberger & Husick which may be confidential or privileged. The information is intended to be for the use of the individual(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient, please be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this message is prohibited. If you have received this electronic transmission in error, please notify us by electronic mail (PostMaster@LawHusick.com ) immediately, before we get in really big trouble. If you fail to be intimidated by this notice, we will get angry, stamp our feet, and hold our breath until we turn blue. Thank you.

    Thursday, January 27, 2000 @ 11:32 a.m. by jra


    What do I want the Internet to be...

    Nortel, (formerly Northern Telecom -- rant on stupid corporate name changes to come) is running these stilly television ads for the internet.

    Like everyone else, including AlGore, apparently now Nortel had some part in inventing the Internet, too. I'm damned if I know what; as far as I can tell, they build phone switches and PBXen.

    So, anyway, they ask a bunch of people what they want the Internet to be. They get a bunch of stupid answers, and a bunch of pseudo-profound answers with incredibly bad acting...

    Me?

    I just want the Internet to be working when I sit down.

    That's not too much to ask, right?

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 11:44 p.m. by jra


    I cannot say it any better.

    From Twernt:

    Not content with making sites load as slowly as possible, Doubleclick has a announced a comprehensive plan to screw Web users.

    To avoid dealing with this, in Netscape, go to Edit->Preferences->Advanced, and select "Accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server".

    (Why they phrase it that way is beyond me; the Unix version correctly says "accept only cookies from the domain of the base page", or something very similar. Why this is important can be learned here, in the Howard Goldstein piece, and there are some other interesting observations on new Netscape 'features' which may imperil your privacy in this DIGEST.

    Both of these articles are from issues of the Privacy Digest, which I'd suggest you make a regular read; the Internet needn't be frightning, you just have to know how to manage your interactions with it, and why that's important.

    Full disclosure: I make use of Phil Greenspun's clickthrough tracking system to see what people are interested in reading; this gives me click counts and dates, but not any information on who clicked. The results can be seen here.

    I also run a counter from TheCounter.com, if you'd like to see what this counter logs, go here -- the short version is, I get a (possibly truncated) host name and referrer, plus some technical details; the hostnames are only visible for the last 10 hits.)

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 07:31 p.m. by jra


    50 reasons why Revenge of the Jedi sucks...

    28. THE OPENING TEXT CRAWL: Let's compare the opening text crawl in which we are given our first taste of each of the three films, shall we?

  • Star Wars: "It is a period of civil war..."

  • Empire: "It is a dark time for the Rebellion..."

  • Jedi: "Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Charo guest stars."

    Okay, we threw in the part about Charo. But the point is, we're talking mythic tracts versus a blurb from TV Guide. The first sentence in Jedi centers around the word friend. Well, that's just peachy, but we much prefer the first two films' implications that we're about to see something a bit larger than a buddy picture.

  • [ link works now, fixed a misplaced quote; thanks to Eric. ]

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 07:05 p.m. by jra


    How to tell...

    if your ass is too small.

    [ Courtesy of a new one (to me): Strange Brew. ]

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 06:29 p.m. by jra


    Quiet period... quiet period...

    An interesting piece on Linux IPO's and the hassles of the open-source company quiet period.

    "At VA, anyone who spent time in front of a microphone during the quiet period was taken to lunch by the lawyers and indoctrinated in 'Quiet Period Thinking.' It goes like this:

    "Someone asks you: 'Hey, how's it going?' "You reply: 'To answer that would violate SEC-mandated rules on forward-looking statements. That said, I anticipate that I am fine, but past moods are no indication of future moods.'

    I love it.

    It's worth noting that there really isn't a 'quiet period' anyway, the SEC doesn't mean that they can't say anything... what the SEC does mean isn't clear, and (here's the damn story I was looking for) apparently, the SEC doesn't really say anything at all:

    This is largely because the quiet period, which has its roots in outdated federal securities laws, has never been adopted as a present-day regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 06:12 p.m. by jra


    Houston, we have a problem.

    Don't click here.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 06:03 p.m. by jra


    Broadcasting: the Early Years

    One of my fascinations, being a long time ham (my license, alas, currently lapsed) is other forms of radio broadcasting, including AM/FM/TV. In poking around this morning (thanks Eric), I ran across this site, wherein (apparent) broadcasting scholar Thomas H. White has more to tell you about the early days of radio then you'd ever want to know.

    Be prepared to bookmark this one, and curl up with it on a cold winter's night (which oughn't to be a problem this month... :-); it's not a lightweight site, by any means.

    Radio geeks will especially appreciate the treatment of call signs in section 4.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 05:49 p.m. by jra


    The Top Ten horrors of the web...

    Good pointer from Camworld to a Sean Carton piece in Clickz, a slightly overly-fluffy for my taste, but sometimes very good site on web marketing.

    Cam liked number 8; I prefer number 9.

    Marketing is hard work. Design takes special skill. Just because you can configure a router while brushing your teeth doesn't mean that you know how to market your way out of a McDonald's wrapper.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2000 @ 10:25 a.m. by jra


    HOAX ALERT - The "Modem Tax" is floating around again.

    If you receive the following mail message, PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD IT, IT IS A HOAX. The contents are factually incorrect, and to the extent they were ever close to being correct, they're well out of date.

    CNN has reported that within the next two weeks Congress is going to vote on allowing telephone companies to CHARGE A TOLL FEE for Internet access. Translation: Every time we send a long distance e-mail we will receive a long distance charge. This will get costly. Please visit the following web site and file a complaint to your Congressperson. We can't allow this to pass! The following address will allow you to send an e-mail on this subject DIRECTLY to your Congressperson. http://www.house.gov/writerep Pass this on to your friends. It is urgent! I hope all of you will pass this on to all your friends and family. We should ALL have an interest in this one.

    WAIT, THERE'S MORE! IN ADDITION, The last few months have revealed an alarming trend in the Government of the United States attempting to quietly push through legislation that will affect your use of the Internet. Under proposed legislation the U.S. Postal Service will be attempting to bilk email users out of "alternate postage fees". Bill 602P will permit the Federal Govt. to charge a 5 cent surcharge on every email delivered, by billing Internet Service Providers at source. The consumer would then be billed in turn by the ISP. Washington D.C. lawyer Richard Stepp is working without pay to prevent this legislation from becoming law. The U.S. Postal Service is claiming that lost revenue due to the proliferation of e-mail costing nearly $230,000,000 in revenue per year. (Oh, isn't that too bad?) You may have noticed their recent ad campaign "There is nothing like a letter". Since the average citizen received about 10 pieces of email per day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents per day, or over $180 dollars per year, above and beyond their regular Internet costs. Note that this would be money paid directly to the U.S. Postal Service for a service they do not even provide. The whole point of the Internet is democracy and non-interference. If the federal government is permitted to tamper with our liberties by adding a surcharge to email, who knows where it will end. You are already paying an exorbitant price for snail mail because of bureaucratic inefficiency. It currently takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from New York to Buffalo. If the U.S. Postal Service is allowed to tinker with email, it will mark the end of the "free" Internet in the United States. One congressman, Tony Schnell (r) has even suggested a "twenty to forty dollar per month surcharge on all Internet service" above and beyond the government's proposed email charges. Note that most of the major newspapers have ignored the story, the only exception being the Washingtonian which called the idea of email surcharge "a useful concept whose time has come" (March 6th, 1999 Editorial). Don't sit by and watch your freedoms erode away! Send this e-mail to EVERYONE on your list, and tell all your friends and relatives to write to their Congressman and say "No!" to Bill 602P. It will only take a few moments of your time, and could very well be instrumental in killing a bill we don't want.

    PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW WHO USES EMAIL REMEMBER THESE ARE TWO SEPARATE ISSUES THAT EFFECT ALL OF US ONLINE LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD NOW, NOT AFTER.

    I got this on a network operations mailing list. (From someone who'd better have been wearing asbestos jammies... :-) So it's not just the amateurs who don't know any better...

    References for substantion of it's hoax-ness include this, from Representative Holden, this, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory CIAC security center, and finally this, from the FCC, via the alt.folklore.urban website, which I respectfully request that each of you familiarize yourselves with, bookmark, check, before spreading any stories anything like this, and tell all your friends about.

    Please.

    [ One final note, for people to pass along to their friends who are geeks: yes, there was a proposal to try and charge some large ISP's per-minute call termination fees if they were registered as CLEC's.

    As you can see, that isn't going to happen, either. So piss off. ]

    There's a stunning amount of useful information on such things here, and if you have any questions on comsumer-ish stuff that relates to the FCC, that's where'll you'll probably find answers. FCC are doing quite a decent job being wired -- you'd sorta hope, wouldn't you?

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 11:50 p.m. by jra


    Some thoughts...

    You've probably gotten this in your mailbox...

    ...if you know anyone on AOL. :-) Forwarded by my friend Marie.

  • Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  • When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
  • Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.
  • Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  • Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  • Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  • When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  • Spend some time alone.
  • Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer
  • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  • A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. Do all you can to create a tranquil, harmonious home.
  • In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
  • Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
  • Be gentle with the earth.
  • Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
  • Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other
  • Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  • Call your mother.
  • Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

    A nice collection.

    Maybe if I'm lucky, she'll send me some mail written by her next...

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 11:26 p.m. by jra


    Live Nood Goils

    So much better than those dead nude girls we used to have...

    If you thought Tampa had dancer problems...

    The city of Erie, Pennsylvania, is unhappy about its strip clubs. Of course, Erie is not alone in this regard. Lots of municipalities are unhappy about their strip clubs, ranging from small towns in Iowa to the Big Apple itself. If you're of a mind to keep track of such things, you'll discover that there is a complicated, unceasing game of cat-and-mouse litigation being played out in every corner of this grand nation of ours, all about what to do about the long-standing national pastime of enjoying nude and semi-nude erotic entertainment. Public erotic entertainment is, as it has been for some 200 years, a substantial industry offering what is at once a pleasurable erotic staple to millions of Americans, and a cause of virulent upset and anger to millions of others.

    That's the lead, but this story isn't just about lap dancers. This is an excellent, deep exposition about sexuality in general, and society's reactions to it. It pulls no punches. An excellent read, and the parent site is an excellent resource. For adults, and if you're an adult, I don't care what age you are.

    On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.

    [ Thanks to Flutterby - typo in my link fixed @ 2310; sorry... ]

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 05:20 p.m. by jra


    Apparently someone's listening out there

    I see that the story on the Wireless Applications Protocol and it's suckage is pretty popular. In fact, it's just passed 'How to pack a hippo' for #2, behind 'Microsoft is full of shit'. No microsoft.com hits in the logs, though.

    Bummer. I was so hoping for a cease and desist letter... so that I could tell them to fold it until it was all sharp corners, and...

    My visit count average has grown to 34 a day. I'm still doing it for me, but I'm glad you like it too.

    There's an interesting question: If I'm 'only doing this for me', am I allowed to be happy that my readership is improving? Sort of a metaphysical question, isn't it...?

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 03:00 p.m. by jra


    I've been reading a lot of 'logs lately...

    It sort of goes with the territory, although I do try to go other places as well, that being the point of the thing.

    I'm starting to feel like the token het.

    I don't have any problem with people of either preference, and I don't have much problem with people discussing the topic, as long as they don't make a big hairy thing out of it either way...

    But, damn a lot of the good 'loggers are gay.

    Not, to coin a phrase, that there's anything wrong with that.

    On a related topic, and I know I'll take fire on this, John McCain got some flak for letting on that he has 'gaydar', a smart-ass term for people who can 'spot' gay people.

    You know what? Every gay person I know well enough to have the conversation (3 or 4, to date) has gaydar, too. Most of them scoff at the idea that it's not possible to spot 'family' -- in private, anyway. If they can spot theirs, then, presumably, I can spot 'mine'... and if I can spot mine, then by elimination, I have gaydar, too.

    (And in fact, my hit rate, on people I've thought might be gay over the last 20 years or so, has been north of 85%.)

    So, what's wrong with that?

    Is it just politically incorrect to admit it?

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 02:28 p.m. by jra


    Getting a sex change to become a lesbian?

    No, this one is even funnier.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 11:46 a.m. by jra


    No, Eric...

    no updates yet this morning. Sorry.

    And Margaret, what are you doing up that early?

    Tuesday, January 25, 2000 @ 11:34 a.m. by jra


    In case anyone ever doubted...

    that Microsoft was full of shit, this search, courtesy of Neale Talbot's wetlog.

    Monday, January 24, 2000 @ 11:00 a.m. by jra


    Do NOT shag the freshly baked pies, please...

    Without comment.

    Monday, January 24, 2000 @ 10:57 a.m. by jra


    Aw, shit.

    Rams 11, Bucs 6.

    Sunday, January 23, 2000 @ 07:33 p.m. by jra


    First Blood!

    Tampa Bay 3, Rams 0, on, unsurprisingly, a Martin Gramatica field goal.

    Sunday, January 23, 2000 @ 04:39 p.m. by jra


    Hey, hey, Tampa Bay!

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one game away from Superbowl 34 in Atlanta.

    If you're stuck away from a TV, or even if you're just at home and want a little more detail on this afternoon's game, I'd suggest you pull up NFL GameDay Live, a real-time Java applet that will keep you updated on the game, to about a 15 second granularity.

    NFL Productions has really done a nice job on this program; it tells you everything you need to know about a football game, without melting down your link, on a 640x480 monitor.

    Pretty sweet.

    GO Bucs!

    Sunday, January 23, 2000 @ 01:11 p.m. by jra


    My, but I sure do love Jerry's page...

    From Jerry Pournelle's current view page:

    This from Jim Warren:

    Hale Hawley, Mary Kay Cosmetics, the Fuller Brush Company, and the W. R. Grace Company have decided to merge. The resulting company will be known as Hale Mary Fuller Grace.

    Sunday, January 23, 2000 @ 01:09 p.m. by jra


    I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat.

    From Jerry Pournelle:

    I have just been told of the dangers of trying to use words in languages you don't understand. A chap jumped into a taxi in Hong Kong and tried to say, in Cantonese, "Take me to the airport." The taxi driver fortunately spoke English, and said "You have just told me to throw my grandmother under a truck." You need to get the tones right with Chinese...

    [ links at left ]

    Saturday, January 22, 2000 @ 07:46 p.m. by jra


    An anniversary

    The Linux Weekly News (actually, that link points to the daily page) is 2 years old today.

    Congratulations to my most closely followed source of news on the Linux operating system; here's to many more good years...

    Saturday, January 22, 2000 @ 06:49 p.m. by jra


    Is Jeeves Gay?

  • Click here
  • Click on the first question.
  • Laugh uproariously.

    [ Thanks to Jen @ USF for this one. ]

    Saturday, January 22, 2000 @ 06:18 p.m. by jra


    FLASH: AOL 5.0 can be hazardous to your (computer's) health

    If a member picks yes, we make their lives simple," said Jeff Kimball, AOL's executive director for its client software. That means AOL seizes responsibility to display all Web pages, send all e-mail and exclusively perform other tasks online.

    But rivals and some AOL customers complain that the selection, made with a single click of a mouse with no added explanation, also can suddenly interfere with connections to rival Internet services or business accounts.

    This is so typical. The "but we were only trying to make it easier for our customers [who are such morons that they wouldn't understand it if we explained it to them]" approach.

    All that would've been necessary for them not to annoy people would be one sentence: "If you use another service to connect to the Internet in addition to AOL, you should pick 'NO' here." But, see, they'd rather piss off 4 million people than admit they have competition. Is this really the sort of company you want to give your money to?

    In short: don't install AOL 5 unless you know exactly what you're doing. But, nowadays, that's good advice about any software...

    <bumpersticker speech="snide">
    Friends don't let friends use AOL.
    <bumpersticker>

    Saturday, January 22, 2000 @ 09:52 a.m. by jra


    Weblog writing styles

    I had an interesting exchange with Dan Bricklin earlier tonight, concerning something he's trying out to make skimming his weblog easier.

    There's an up-link to the original commentary on that page; if you're interested in the mechanics of weblogging you might find the whole thing interesting.

    Thanks to Dan for the back-link; it's been quite fruitful. Hope the people following it are enjoying what they see.

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 08:21 p.m. by jra


    Rant: Another 'tragedy' in Pasco County

    A student at New Port Richey's Ridgewood high died of a gunshot wound from a .22 caliber pistol last week.

    Now, don't get me started on whether this was really the 'tragedy' that it's described as in the press -- see George Carlin's rant on such descriptions in his book Braindroppings. I'm sure that sucked for the people who knew Teddy Niziol as much as this death sucked for me, and I'm not trying to make them feel bad or anything.

    My point, and I do have one, is that Teddy needn't have died... but "getting guns off the streets" ("out of the schools", etc) wasn't going to help him.

    Yes, this is a pro-guns rant; if that bothers you, there are hundreds of other weblogs you can read. I'm not a shooter... so I'm bright enough not to play with guns. Many people who have had no gun training aren't that bright because they're young, and their judgement hasn't grown in yet. But I can tell you one thing I think: If all those high school kids in that car had been shooting since their hands were big enough to hold the pistol, this wouldn't have happened.


    Gun control is being able to hit your target.

    The Second Amendment was put in there for a reason.

    While you're poking around Eric's website, check out, on his writings page, the paper "Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun". It says much of what I think... quite a bit of which I only crystallized after reading his paper.

    [ Thanks to John S Jacobs Anderson at Genehack for catching the bad backlink there.

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 08:01 p.m. by jra


    Prana doesn't fit through wires...

    GirlHacker (Lilly Tao, in her superhero costume :-) writes an interesting piece on the impact of the Internet on social interactions. It's possible to be over-optimistic on this topic, or over-pessimistic, but I think she strikes a good balance.

    The sound bite she's looking for is "prana doesn't fit through wires.

    Prana is "the all-pervading vital energy of the universe", according to that link up there, and what I mean by this comment is that you can't really get a complete feeling for who someone is and what they're like until you've met them in person and spent time with them -- and, if the latest Matt Damon flick is any indication, sometimes that's not enough either.

    I've seen, and done, this many times. As you get to know someone, you feel comfortable with an increasing level of intimacy in your interactions with them. But, if you met them on line, I've found (and many others with whom I've discussed it agree) that you sort of fall back down the slope a bit each time, as you progress from email, to chat, to the telephone, to an in-person meeting.

    Sometimes it can be a good idea to consciously check that tendency to get overly comfortable with someone too early, if you think a relationship might go somewhere -- it can make things uncomfortable occasionally.

    As with anything else, it depends on the people involved.

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 12:26 p.m. by jra


    Rant: Has Civil Behavior Become Optional?

    Jeezus!

    For about the fifth time this month, I've just had someone trail off in the middle of an AIM chat with me, and just disappear. Is this acceptable behavior these days?

    I always used to think that, at least, "Oops; gotta go; bye. " was in order...

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 12:12 p.m. by jra


    Some people get it.

    Via Considered Harmful -- which is one of only a few 'traditional' weblogs on Pitas, and looks pretty promising, to me -- a reminder of the Y2K notice pages from Hart Scientific.

    They've done a followup, and it's even funnier.

    We would like to say that we did take Y2K seriously, we just didnít break out in a rash. We had contingency plans. If the power grid had failed, we were going fishing. The fish donít care if thereís power, and theyíre clueless as to what year it is.

    I love it.

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 11:06 a.m. by jra


    "Internet Taxation", "Online" privacy, and the like...

    <sigh>

    How many people don't get it? Are they all reporters, or are there some real people who are missing this too...

    Ok, I know that when telephones were new (and I'd wager I don't have any readers who remember that), that the 'telephone culture' was treated as some new, different thing that no one understood. But really, we've had a couple of chances now to figure out what that means...

    In this story, Computerworld reports on the fact that the National Retail Federation supports taxes on 'net commerce', "as long as there would be a sales tax in that local jurisdiction anyway".

    In a release, the world's largest retail association took pains to stress that it's not calling for new taxes, but rather equal taxes regardless of sales channel.

    This, of course, will be the cover story on next month's issue of Duh magazine.

    I don't know how they do it elsewhere, but I'd be surprised to find that any other taxing jurisdiction has a different approach than that here in Florida: if you didn't pay sales tax on your purchase, you -- legally -- owe a 'Use' tax to the State on the same amount of money.

    That vanishingly few people actually _pay_ this tax is a) not surprising, and b) not my fault. The problem here is that the state doesn't want to admit that the Emperor is naked. If they admit that they should already be getting this tax revenue, then they have to take the rap for being unable to collect it.

    This will never do.

    On a related rant, I'm hearing lots of people (finally!) start complaining about "online privacy".

    Guess what, folks?

    Your lack of privacy hasn't changed -- it's just that you can finally see the problem, because you're online yourselves now.

    There are, admittedly, more things that you do now to be exposed, but the amount to which those things are exposed it not all that much more than it has been since computing began to be as pervasive as it is.

    Ask the congressman who pushed through the legislation making video rental records confidential. Ask him why...

    Europe is way ahead of us on this; The Privacy Forum Digest has had extensive coverage of the data privacy laws in place in the European Union. Short version: they're great for people, but they're going to raise costs a bit for companies; how much is your privacy worth?

    Most important, of course, is medical privacy: do you really want your employer even knowing that you felt the need to take an HIV test, regardless of whether they hear the results?

    (Sure, some employers might be bright enough to realize that's an indication of responsibility, not something less respectable... but is yours one of them?)

    Friday, January 21, 2000 @ 10:03 a.m. by jra


    I dunno...

    I always felt that being chastised in private -- even amongst family -- was one of the privileges of being an adult: only the kids got yelled at in public.

    Is this just a matter of choice? Or am I right?

    It wasn't especially pleasant; no matter what the motivations...

    Thursday, January 20, 2000 @ 02:10 a.m. by jra


    He's Alive! Alive; I say!!

    Cool!

    One of my hands-down favorite authors of erotic fiction on the net is a gentleman named Michael Kalen Smith. He's been posting his (IMHO) incredibly well written stuff to the net since about 1993. He disappeared for a while, as his bio here notes. I'm not sure I'm not the fan who wrote him the nice note -- I do remember hunting around for him a bit -- but in any case, I'm glad it worked.

    #include <disclaimer.h>

    Thursday, January 20, 2000 @ 12:23 a.m. by jra


    Much more cool, and still current, stuff behind here.

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