|log (2002/04/19 to 2002/04/25)|
Thursday, April 25, 2002
Great Moments in Journalism: I just passed by a TV set tuned to the Larry King Show, and the banner on the bottom of the screen said
Can We Talk To The Dead?
To which the obvious answer is
They're not here right now, but we'll tell them you called.
Contrabulator and I had a pretty tough day in Neopia yesterday; first he lost to that dratted Chia Clown in the battledome again, and the faerie at the Healing Springs just gave us one little healing potion vial rather than magically curing all his wounds at once, so we had to blow many NPs on more potions. Then we spun the Wheel of Excitment only to have it come up on the Skull, and poor Contrabulator got the Itchy Scratchies as a result. So we had to blow many more MPs on Itchy Scratch Cream. Whew!
Today, on the other hand, I managed to snag a Water Faerie for a mere 2,000 NP, and turned it around really quick in my own shop for 2,895. I spent some of the profits on a bean-bag chair and a matching red pot for our Neohome.
I am, of course, only playing this silly game so as to have some idea what my children are up to. Why else would a Serious Computer Scientist be seen on such a frivolous site?
(Although in fact I'll bet the e-commerce dudes could get some pretty interesting case studies off of user behavior in the Neopets shops and the auction house; Lord knows eBay has been studied to death!)
Another morbidly curious spammer wants to know:
Where's Your 'Germ Spreading' Plunger??
Musta left it in my other pants!
From the Bellona Times, a brief story about a very neat language (the headline is "Surinamese language Trio demands honesty", but what it really demands is specificity; you can lie, you just can't be vague). For Today's Special CEOLN Bonus, find another (independant) link that tends to confirm that story.
One of the many best things about a weblog is that you really can write just anything at all. You can even write nothing; but that fact, the fact that I can just forget the whole thing if I don't feel like writing, is usually enough to get me to write something. (I suspect that the possibility of suicide has saved many lives.)
So today we'll do mostly just (mosly jes) Reader Input. Y'all are so juicy and clever.
On a recent subject, a reader after my own heart writes:
Oh labia, oh labia, say, do you have labia?
(Now I've got that "Lydia" song stuck in my head...)
And other readers boldly and wisely fill in the blank:
But I'm too busy beaming as you picked me - me! - as a co-Winner and/or Honorable Mention. I'm Canadian, though, so I'm honoured.
And other readers, or at least surfers, find various pages on this site by searching on, among (many) other things (in roughly descending order of popularity):
Countering accusations from liberals and conservatives alike that U.S. policy in the Middle East has become "confused and incoherent," the Bush administration today announced that it has in fact parachuted 225,000 cats into Belgium.
Why do we have so few words for things? Or rather, why are there so many things for which we have no words? So many things that deserve to be single concepts about which we have expertise, but that are in fact fuzzy uncategorized phenomena, that someone might notice now and then and comment on in a whole paragraph or two, but that we don't pin down for further study with a single lexeme.
My cognitive style is very different from some other people's (some other people have very different cognitive styles than I do). Some of those styles are compatible with mine, some aren't. Some are compatible for some mutual tasks and not others. Why don't we have words for cognitive styles, and knowledge about which go with which? We have some people who have tried to do some of this stuff; why don't we have consensus, why isn't it something everyone knows?
Speaking of the Middle East, why don't we have a word for "life threatening nationalist disputes caused by the desire for power of politicians on both sides of a border"? Why don't we have a word for the "asshole leaders vs. ordinary people who just want to have happy loved ones" axis, like we have words for the axes of race, of nationality, of ideology?
Some people, at some points in their lives, often suffer when they learn new skills: as they go through the learning process, they feel inadequate, like failures, hopeless, miserable, in tears. But eventually they learn the skill, and are happy and confident and competent. Why isn't there a word for that kind of learning, for that stage of life? If we had a word like that, those people could say to themselves between their sobs "sure, I'm miserable, but it's just because I'm roffelnass, and I'll be better soon". Think what a comfort that would be!
Why is there no word for finding something wrong with every possible alternative action, or for the tendency to do that? Why is there no word for being unable to decide which of two different pleasant things to do, when the only negative thing about each one is that it isn't the other? Why don't we have a rich vocabulary for describing and analyzing intradepartmental power struggles, incidents of miscommunication, the desire to be noticed?
More words, that's what we need, more words...
Let's see. I finished The Last Battle. It's a fitting last book for the series; somber but joyful, deep and lush. The basic "how wonderful everything is once you're dead" theme might seem a little disquieting for a children's book, but I like it when children's books are a little disquieting, a little weird.
My main theological complaint in this one is the whole "Is Aslan the same as Tash?" thing. Aslan himself denies it completely, and says that in fact he is the opposite of Tash; by which he means that he is the Good God, and Tash is the Bad one.
But he also says that whatever good things men do in the name of Tash, they actually do for Aslan, and whatever bad things men do in the name of Aslan, they actually do for Tash. So in fact all people, whether they call their deity "Aslan" or "Tash", are actually worshipping and acting in the name of some complicated mixture of the Good God and the Evil one. That "Aslan" is somehow the real name of the Good God, and "Tash" the real name of the Evil one, just tell us that this particular narrative was written by an Aslanian, not a Tashian. A Tashian would equally assure us that all good things are really done for Tash, and all evil ones for Aslan.
What makes people the same is that they have similar ideas of what is good and what is evil, not that they use the same names for their Gods.
A spammer writes:
7 White Teeth Make the Perfect Smile tne
I'd actually think it'd take more than seven; but to each his own.
In general, IIS 4.0 permits an intruder to execute code with complete administrative privileges, while IIS 5.0 and 5.1 permit an intruder to execute code with the privileges of the IWAM_computername account.
And while we're doing computer security, here are three from a recent issue of Crypto-Gram:
If you let two randomly-initialized neural nets train on each other's output, they will in some circumstances quickly converge to a shared state. This might be used to communicate quasi-securely: paper, New Scientist piece.
The Full Disclosure team writes an Internet Draft of their own: Security Through Obscurity Considered Dangerous. (Isn't that supposed to be "considered harmful"?)
Neopets continues to play a large role in family life hereabouts. Lots and lots of Neopets players spend their time trying to buy various items (bottled faeries, rare books, magic items) at low prices, to resell them at the going rate in their shops (I myself snapped up a bottled faerie in some newbie's shop for a mere 600NP or so, and resold it at the standard rate of around 3000).
What does it mean that we're teaching tens of thousands of pre-teen girls how to do commodity arbitrage?
The next In Bed with Susie Bright program included an interview with Jack Boulware (another of those lame firstname lastname dot com domain names), author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and other light classics. Generally interesting interview, but I do have one quibble.
Among other things he said, Boulware repeated the homily that the U.S. is a terribly hypocritical country, because we are in some ways very puritanical about sex, and yet we're the world's largest producer of porn. If those things were both true of a single person, I might agree it constituted hypocrisy, but the U.S. isn't a single person. We've got some people (all too many) who are puritanical about sex, and some other people (all too few, heh heh) who produce erotic books, films, and artworks (not to mention movies of people fucking). But that's not hypocrisy, that's just having different kinds of people in the same country.
Of course there are lots of hypocrites in the U.S.; people who talk about the importance of the family while cheating on a succession of spouses, who talk about divine love while spreading hate, who consume porn and drugs while publicly supporting their prohibition, and that sort of thing. But for a country to have differrent people who act in different ways is just to be big and diverse, not somehow nationally hypocritical.
And big and diverse, we like.
I am reminded of the fragility of bodies, of the thin and vulnerable reality of skin.
I was planning to curl up with the computer this evening, surf around a little, do some coding, maybe write some of the large collections of words that need to be written by the end of the month (it's still early in the month, right?). But I ended up putting together the shelf-unit for the little boy's new desk (M did the desk itself during the day), and then watching the "Charlie's Angels" movie (because the little daughter for some reason of her own was determined that everyone would watch it together). It was a very silly movie, but in a friendly sort of way.
After I finished putting together the shelf-unit, I noticed I was idly sucking on the end of the ring finger of my right hand. I took it out of my mouth and looked at it, and there on the familiar pad of the familiar finger was an unfamiliar canyon, three quarters of an inch of slightly winding blade-narrow gully with steep walls and an ominously pink-red bottom. Some piece of metal, some burr on the end of a cam lock (part B) or shelf support (part G) have been sharp enough to slide between the cells without tugging or snagging.
I find really disquieting the feeling when the edges of a wound touch and part, touch and part.
Wasn't that fun?
Jessamyn's cards (Can you please keep your turtles in your room???)
From Medley, pictures taken one per mile, all the way across the United States. I've thought about doing this diachronically (and, what, synspatially?), by taking one (digital) picture per day, same time, from exactly the same spot. But I've been too lazy. Would that be cool?
From Inexplicably Fancy Trash, "My Dad and I Visit a Porn Set". I've only skimmed it (for 27 points, estimate the fraction of the average weblogged page that the weblogger weblogging it has actually read at the time of the weblogging), but it looks (what?) informative.