History Revisioning

I'm saddened to actually waste the time to write this complaint formally, but if there's any moment to be happy about being too busy to work on AmphetaDesk, I'd say it's now. The syndication scene has become insanely disgusting to me of late - enough so that I'm thinking my meagre time and effort should be devoted entirely elsewhere. Wasn't it two or three years ago where we had all manner of people coming out of the woodworks to invent new standards designed be the "end all, be all, peace pipe, white doves don't poop in my backyard" of the whole RSS mess, secure in the knowledge that they, and they alone, were the saviors of syndication? A quick search recalls Extremely Simple Syndication, no better than any of the other attempts I seem to remember (and those with better memories will flood my box with the others). It got so ridiculous that Aaron Swartz created RSS 3.0, an entirely non-XML format. And now, as history is so wont to do, we've got SDF, yet another yet another. This is getting absolutely ridiculous. Hey! You over there, the one with illusions of grandeur? Shut the fuck up: you're nothing but a re-run.

In other "oh, look, I opened a door to shit I flushed out my toilet years ago!" news, we've also got the idiotic results of a contest to rename RSS. The winner? "Webfeed". Ugh, as John Stossel milks like an anxious teat: gimme a break!

Takin' A Trip

Allow me, if I may, to go on a short ego trip: besides series editor Rael Dornfest, I believe I've been mentioned or involved in the most O'Reilly Hacks books: Amazon Hacks (ideas, some editing, some code), Google Hacks (code consultant; ahahah. that sounds funny), IRC Hacks (coming soon; for spurring the idea on), Linux Server Hacks (contributor), Mac OS X Hacks (coauthor), Mac OS X Panther Hacks (contributor), and Spidering Hacks (coauthor). Seven total. I rule.

Our Next Frontier

In response to the whale penis discussion, I received the following email:

Dear Sir -

Today, while searching for "GIANT WHALE PENIS DILDOS" I came across your website. I would like to make a complaint.

Although I did find a very EROTIC photograph of a GIANT WHALE PENIS, I did not any dildos for sale. Quite plainly, this is false advertisement. I suppose you wish to lure people to this little "website" of yours by using common "keywords" in your "we"bsite". I do not like this, sir. Not one bit. If I wanted to read about this "coding" that you "do" (which is QUITE clearly made up) I assure you, I would search of "stuff that is made up by some guy". But no sir, I wanted a dildo. Is that so much to ask? I think not.

Good day,
Captain [name removed]

To put the matter to rest, Disobey has not yet been able to move into the market of whale dildos. We have investigated the options available to us, but have found that fierce competition has led to a rather un-business-like, and un-fair, environment. We remain diligent in our effort to launch our own unique approach to cetacean sex toys, and we hope, as do our fishy friends, that that day will come sooner than expected.

Deep Thoughts by Morbus Iff

From an IRC transcript early this morning, thus the stilited sentences.

<Morbus> apr 25th.
<sal> really the 25th?
<sal> you'll be what? 24?
<Morbus> older.
<Morbus> not sure the exact though.
<Morbus> i'd have to think about it.
<Morbus> i live in a perpetual state of "whee, comics!"
<Morbus> i really don't feel old, mentally.
<Morbus> i know my knees are giving out on me.
<Morbus> and i get weird cricks i've not had before.
<Morbus> but mentally, i still feel 16-18.
<Morbus> i just know i'm gonna be one of those dad's that has no clue he's embarrassing his son. i'm gonna be all "woOOh, Bendis has a new comic!" and he'll be all "Bendis is SOOoOO old. Liefield is hot!" and i'll be like "Liefield?! That hack!?! He sucked when I was your agE!" and then he'll kick my shins and run off. i really, seriously, feel that i'm going to realize one day that I *am* old, and i'm gonna hit a state of depression. I've already started to worry about this.
<Morbus> here's a worry of mine.
<Morbus> i like horror movies. alot.
<Morbus> now, most horror movies have copious amounts of nudity.
<Morbus> when i'm 50, i'm gonna still be watching horror movies.
<Morbus> with teenagers getting nekkid.
<Morbus> i can't help but feel like a dirty old man.
<Morbus> even though, the nudity is not why i'm watching.
<Morbus> and, i can say it with a clear head now, and kinda chuckle.
<Morbus> but when i'm 50 and I realize this? that's gonna be weird.

Of course, I won't know how I'll be feeling when I'm 50, but I know how I currently feel when I watch some old geezer walk up to the porno rack and start browsing through 'em. Horror movies can very easily be abused as "porno-in-disguise" - they relish the shirtshed as much as the bloodshed. But, as a corrollary, I never feel the same way when Tim Lucas reviews erotica for Video Watchdog. And he's got a wife. Why do I have double standards?

Good friend sbp comments: "you're scared that you're going to turn from a creepy scary weird-assed complete enigma of a young man into a creepy scary weird-assed complete enigma of an old man? I have a feeling that you'll be able to cackle a lot more comprehensively with more well used vocal chords" Good point.


Animal vs. Male Anatomy

I know this is gonna sound like "typical Morbus funny ha ha" stuff, but I've got a serious question, spurned on by a rather unserious picture of a gigantic whale penis. I've pasted a chatlog, with some names changed in respect to their oogleability:

<male_1> wooohooo!!
<male_1> OMG
<SteamedPenguin> lol
<male_1> yet another reason i didn't go into cetacean biology
<female_1> omg
<female_1> well, it's proportionate
<female_1> the whale looks happy
<male_1> lol
<SteamedPenguin> wouldn't you be happy?
<SteamedPenguin> swimming pool, sun, and somebody stroking you
<Morbus> on a serious note, why do penis' look the same on animals, yet I know of little female-like-breasts? are there animals that have breasts like a woman?
<male_1> not sure i can answer that, different tissues and all, maybe a cow udder is the closest analogue i can think of ATM
<Morbus> i find it remarkable that a whale has a penis just like mine. but that female whales don't have breasts like a woman.
<male_1> lmao
<Morbus> ok, yeah, i know that sounded weird. but i'm serious!
<male_1> functional evolution perhaps, they'd cause unnecessary drag in the water. not that they used to have external breasts and they evolved away, i don't mean that
<SteamedPenguin> a penis has that wonderful hydrodynamic shape
<Morbus> yeah, but... hmm, yeah, i suppose a penis would float up to the body, thus reducing drag.
<male_1> samir - they retract, they aren't out there causing drag
<Morbus> female_1: when you're swimming face down, what do your breasts do?
<male_1> lol
<Morbus> look, i know this sounds like i'm trying to be funny
<Morbus> but i'm really not.
<male_1> i know, that's what's funny :)

Thoughts? Someone told me that the whale penis probably retracts like a dog's, which would remove any issue of drag. But that still doesn't answer why there aren't human-breasted mammals running around. Do female apes have human-like breasts? What about other animals?

Update: "<male_1> another thing i thought of might be related to surface area and the blubber layer which can be literally a foot or more thick for insulation purposes, any external "danglies" would provide more surface area for potential heat loss"

Update: Skeptic.com reports "human female breasts are secondary sexual characteristics that evolved to attract mates. According to Desmond Morris (1967), this took place along with the switch from front-to-rear to front-to-front mating, the pendulous shape and cleavage of the breasts mimicking the pre-existing attractiveness of the female buttocks. This also, according to the theory, explains why men find other pendulous shapes (like ear lobes) and other cleavages (like toes in low-vamped shoes) such a turn-on."


Blink, Blink, Sniff, Sniff

DDOS Curiosity

Speaking loosely of inevitable DDOS attacks against TypeKey, I personally ran across a rather interesting variant of one today. Although I don't have 100% proof (ie. a copy of the email itself), this is what appears to have happened: naughty user creates HTML spam message. HTML spam message references a number of images on victim's server. Naughty user sends out zillions of spams. 95% of email clients render HTML email automatically, which means a good half-zillion email clients downloading those images from the victim's server. Basically, a slashdotting, only much, much worse. Quite effective.

More On TypeKey

A thread I started on mt-dev eventually devolved into a discussion on TypeKey, with respected developer Timothy Appnel asking for solutions from the whiners:

Fair enough. You wouldn't be the only person to have the concerns you raise in your weblog posts, but let me ask this while we are on the topic: what is the better solution for both weblog publishers AND readers?

My replies, disjointed and sleepy:

Honestly, like others, I haven't really sat down and thought about the answer, but I know that the proposed TypeKey system isn't the answer I was looking for. Have there *really* been that many complaints about per-blog-registration systems? I mean, people sign up for Mailman lists all the time where there's "yet another password". People sign up for various types of forum software where there's "yet another password". No one, in the vast history of forum or mailing list software, has been inspired enough to "solve" these complaints, so I can't imagine that the complaints about "yet another password" were that loud. Per-blog-registration-systems would have simply followed the status quo, and that's a-ok in my book.

And then, an afterthought:

Continuing on in that vein, I can't imagine that a centralized system is the right way to attack this problem: it just means a single point of failure in the whole system. Regardless of whether TypeKey fails or allows all comments when it's "down" (an inevitability which you will never dissuade me from), it still means: TypeKey is down. Blogger is slow. Blogger is down. Wow, the exact reason Movable Type got popular in the first place: Blogger pissed everyone off.

Blogger was slow because it was popular. TypeKey is gonna be borked the minute spammers think it is effective, and spammers have a lot more resources than bloggers (another maxim that'd be tough to dissuade me from, since there's a good chance a typical cable-using Win user is probably trojan'd with an SMTP server already).

This is why Vipul's Razor is stronger than plain old Bayesian, why distributed DNSBL's are (or would be --EDITED FOR BLOG) stronger than a singly hosted one, blah blah blah: it's multiple machines, multiple efforts, against the same thing spammers are throwing at us: multiple machines, multiple methods of attack (ever heard the mod_proxy trick? that's a good one).

Peter CommercialTail

I'm looking for a high-quality rip of the "Here comes Peter Cottontail" Toys-R-Us commercial: you know, where the zillions of bunnies are singing the song, and Geoffrey is saying "Just make 'em stop!". As far as I know, it's new to the airwaves this year. If you've got a copy, or know where I can locate one, I'd love to hear from you.

Bayesian Storystarter

Most know that spammers are now attempting to defeat Bayesian auto-classifiers by including either mass amounts of dictionary words, or otherwise randomly generated text, in their emails. I received the following blurb today, which sounds like the start of a pretty good story. know the real text this was based off?

And how do you treat these marvelous gifts? Why, you carry them to a cannibal island, where even your crude civilization has not yet penetrated! I wanted to astonish the natives, said Rob, grinning

The Demon uttered an exclamation of anger, and stamped his foot so fiercely that thousands of electric sparks filled the air, to disappear quickly with a hissing, crinkling soundYou might have astonished those ignorant natives as easily by showing them an ordinary electric light, he cried, mockingly The power of your gifts would have startled the most advanced electricians of the worldWhy did you waste them upon barbarians? Really, faltered Rob, who was frightened and awed by the Demon's vehement anger, I never intended to visit a cannibal island

I meant to go to Cuba Cuba! Is that a center of advanced scientific thought? Why did you not take your marvels to New York or Chicago; or, if you wished to cross the ocean, to Paris or Vienna? I never thought of those places, acknowledged Rob, meeklyThen you were foolish, as I said, declared the Demon, in a calmer tone

Oogling for phrases returns The World Key by L. Frank Baum (author of THE WIZARD OF OZ): "an Electrical fairy tale founded upon the mysteries of electricity and the optimism of its devotees. It was written for boys, but others may read it."

"To be sure. A demon is also a genius; and a genius is a demon," said the Being. "What matters a name? I am here to do your bidding."

Regardless, it appears this is nothing new, as the BBC reported in December:

But as Clive Thompson points out, automatically generating text that reads like it was written by a human hand is difficult. This is perhaps why some spammers are turning to out-of-copyright novels for their text. It is an ideal source of real writing.


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