Monday, October 22, 2007

Which brings us to the present

Given the logic of the circumstances, as explained in that preceding post, I can't say that I was very surprised to discover that I had, indeed, been right. A few days ago, Yahoo announced the closing of its 360 profile and blog service. The author of the deservedly unpopular announcement tried to avoid using the word "closing", assuring the reader that the blogs and friends networks would be moved to some nebulously described global profile service that nobody outside of Yahoo had seen any trace of, leaving any reasonably attentive user with the question "exactly what is the functional difference between 'closing down a service' and 'relocating the contents of the accounts on that service to a new service' - isn't that a little like arguing that Yahoo! Photos is still with us because so many of the images from there ended up on Flickr" - which is not to say all of them. The move to Flickr, from what we could see looked far more solidly planned, and still ended up with a sizable number of users complaining about images that were lost in the move. History had left us with no reason to think that our blogs would far any better, and the loss of work would tend to be far greater, so some of us, myself included, decided that a move of this magnitude was a thing best done by hand.

I looked at a number of services, but was stunned by some of the choices I saw system administrators making. Consider, for example,, a popular choice, one offering many tools for the user, but my understanding is that one can't screen comments before they appear on one's multiply profile. That was just asking for trouble, so I moved on - but found that the much-praised Wordpress had its own annoying feature - one couldn't modify the eye straining font size without the letters overlapping each other. At another location - I stopped looking before I even started, because the owner was a fairly well know outsourcer, and you've already seen what I've had to say about that practice, raising the question of just how long my relocated blog would be allowed to stay. So this went, until I finally just decided "to H*** with it", and began relocating my Yahoo 360 blog to a new location here at Blogger.

I still do see the virtue of having more than one active blog on more than one server - this incident should serve as an excellent illustration of why that is - but eventually one does say "I've spent enough time doing this" and takes a few shortcuts. Maybe I'll use the place at Wordpress as a photoblog - visitors seem to enjoy those, and one can keep the eyestraining text to a minimum. You may have noticed that the look and feel of this blog has changed in the course of the move, which is inevitable to a degree since Blogger and Yahoo 360 use different templates, but I've also replaced backgrounds, substituting the wood page background you see for the blue smoke background I used on 360. I hope you'll find the look more restful.

(If for some reason you actually want to know what the old look was, you can see it on this post in the footnotes to this blog. A link at the bottom of that post should bring you back here).

I might put the blog that comes with my account under the new Yahoo service to some use - assuming that there will be such a blog - but I can't very sensibly ignore the fact that Yahoo, for no compellingly good reason, decided to break every single link to every single member's blog, putting the not inconsiderable amount of work many of us put into promoting our blogs to waste. How does one respond to such a position rationally, aside from noting that those who've done an injury once, and done it casually, ought to be expected to be equally casual about doing it again, especially when the logic the injury is done under is so conspicuously lacking in coherence. The Yahoo 360 team is dissatisfied with the level of activity on the current service, so they're going to break every link to it - how can that do anything but reduce the level of activity seen?

The answer is to assume that one is likely to see more of the same, and design one's sites in such a way as to minize the damage done by the expected inconsideration. One might note that my blog at Lycos serves as an annex of sorts for the Urban Backpacker's Quarterly, the articles there being expansions on points made on that other journal of mine here on Blogger. Hardly anybody is going to link to my Lycos blog (Joseph Dunphy's Notebook) because of this; if I resume blogging activity on Yahoo, I will be approaching my blog (at its new location on a new service) in much the same way, as an add-on to this and other blogs of mine. That way, if Yahoo flakes out on me again, all that I have to do is reload the affected posts to a new location, and edit some of my own links.

As for those "return to your post" links on my Googlegroup that will now take you to what will be a defunct Yahoo 360 url - sorry about that, but Google has configured its system in such a way as to thwart any attempt on my part to fix that. The posts are over a month old, so I can no longer reply to them on the group, and so I can't upload good new links to replace the soon to be bad old ones, as much as I wish I could. The best I can do is learn from the experience, and try to route the return links through pages which, unlike Googlegroup posts, can be edited indefinitely far into the future. This might look a little sloppy, but we are left with a choice of annoyances, are we not?

Welcome to the new location. Yes, this did used to be "Joseph Dunphy's Blog to Come". I hope you like the new location, but I should tell you that the Urban Backpacker's Quarterly will be the main site for my blogging for a while for a few reasons, one of which is a simple desire on my part not to think about politics for a while. Yes, I know, we're about to replace Bush, so what a strange time to start ignoring politics, but to be realistic - how likely are we to see him replaced by anything better? Wake me up when the circus is over and all but one of the clowns have left the stage.

Shifting emphasis over to other blog, maybe temporarily

First posted on my Yahoo 360 blog on Friday August 24, 2007 - 11:22am (CDT)

This blog will be going on a temporary hiatus of sorts. I'll leave it up as long as Yahoo allows me to leave it up, but until certain issues get resolved, I'm going to do my posting elsewhere, probably most on my journal over at Blogger (The Urban Backpacker's Quarterly). Rumors about the closing of Yahoo 360 are floating about, and these rumors seem to have some basis in fact. Maybe not a conclusive basis, but enough to warrant some concern. Consider, for example, this quote from an article about the Yahoo! Photos closing from TechShout

"In closing Photos, Yahoo is adopting a major tenant suggested in an internal memo by Brad Garlinghouse, a senior vice president at the company, which was leaked to the press in November. In an article dubbed the Peanut Butter Manifesto for his description of Yahoo being spread too thin, Garlinghouse called for a number of the company’s products to be eliminated as way to help revive growth and restore focus. There was no word whether Yahoo planned to close other products. In his memo, Garlinghouse had mentioned redundancies involving bookmark services and myWeb, and Yahoo Groups message boards and Yahoo 360 social network service, among others."

"Now, Joseph", somebody will probably write, "Techshout is just a website, and as you've said yourself, anybody can put anything he wants on a website". True, but this is very far from being an isolated report of rumors that Yahoo has to know are going to tend to induce a little panic in its user base on 360, because the relocation of a blog is going to result in far more upheaval for the user than the relocation of a few photos. Think of the links broken, the comments lost, the massive efforts that would merely go into cutting and pasting to code for the posts at the old blog into the archives at the new. Users have to be expected to have questions about such rumors, and what are they to think when their providers stubbornly refuse to answer those questions? When I wrote to the Yahoo 360 team to ask them about these rumors, the team did not respond to my query. Others have reported being stonewalled in the same way on their 360 blogs, and one can see, just by reading the comments on the Yahoo 360 team blog, that still others, in asking the simple question "is Yahoo 360 about to close" or variants on it, don't get replies from anybody other than fellow users.

One might well ask why the fellow users feel qualified to post on the subject, as not a one of them seems to work for Yahoo; the blind are volunteering to lead the nearsighted. As for Yahoo's refusal to say a word, they would have to be unusually clueless to not understand that, while in case like this one can remain silent, one can't possibly fail to answer the question being asked of one. Silence will be read as an affirmation, because if one could squash a false rumor that is starting to hurt one's business merely by having a few employees saying "it isn't true", why wouldn't one do so? The only reasonable user response, under such circumstances, is to assume the worst and act on that assumption until he has a factual basis for doing otherwise, especially when one can read reports about an upcoming Yahoo product called "mosh" that would push Yahoo 360 further in the direction of redundancy, like this one on TechCrunch.

I'm hoping that Yahoo 360 will stick around. If I'm given some real reason to believe that it will - and no, handholding from another user does not qualify - then I'll probably start posting to this blog again, but until then, I'll do what I can to minimize my prospective headaches, and that is going to include sending my next few posts to where they are least likely to evaporate. Namely: HERE.

Where should I be after I escape Chicago?

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Tuesday August 14, 2007 - 07:49pm (CDT)

Mystery resolved ...

You Belong in Paris
You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.

You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

And this seems to be a pattern ...

You Should Learn French
C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.

You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

I can already hear somebody saying it: "generations later, your DNA is still your destiny". Or part of it at least, in this case. Sorry, bubbe. I think I'll go make myself some chicken soup.

Penelope Trunk brings us doublethink to sooth the troubled heart

First posted on my 360 blog at Yahoo on Thursday August 9, 2007 - 06:44pm (CDT)

Reading some commentary about generation Y and its future in the workplace by one of my least favorite bloggers (Penelope Trunk, aka "The Brazen Careerist"), I couldn't help but notice just how much our smugly passionate defender of the status quo was predicting that the very youngest adults would be able to get away with, and the reasons she gave for this.

"What’s the point of baby boomers complaining about Generation Y at work? First of all, it’s a cliché, because people over 40 have been complaining about “young people” since forever. Even worse, it’s a losing battle. Generation Y is huge. It’s one thing for boomers to verbally squash Generation X — that was no problem. Gen X is tiny and the baby boom was huge. ...

1. They won't do work that's meaningless. These kids grew up with parents scheduling every minute of their day. They were told TV is bad and reading is good, and are more educated than any generation in history. They just spent 18 years learning to be productive with their time, so they're not going to settle for any photocopying/coffee stirring job. ...

2. They won't play the face-time game. We've known forever that it isn't necessary to be in the office from 9 to 5 every day to get work done. But many of us have missed family events only to sit at a desk all day getting pretty much nothing done because of the stress of missing a family event. And there didn't used to be any option -- if you wanted a successful career, you made sure co-workers saw that you were putting in the hours. Generation Y wants to be judged by the work they do, not the hours they put in. ...

3. They're great team players. If you've climbed a corporate ladder your whole career, then it's probably inconceivable to you that Gen Y doesn't care about your title. But it's true -- they don't do rank. Chances are they saw their parents get laid off in the '80s, so they know how ephemeral that special rung you stand on is and they don't want to waste time trying to get there. Generation Y played on soccer teams where everyone participated and everyone was a winner, and they conducted playground politics like diplomats because their parents taught them that there's no hierarchy and bullies are to be taken down by everyone. And Gen Yers take these values to work -- they expect to be a part of a team. Gen Y believes that no matter how much experience an individual has, everyone plays ...

4. They have no patience for jerks. Generation Y changes jobs every two years, typically because the work isn't a good fit, or the learning curve isn't steep enough, or they don't like their co-workers. And Gen Yers will disengage from a jerk before trying to get along with him or her, ..."

Stripping away the rhetorical spin, what are we left with? A "team" being built of insubordinate post-adolescent employees who may or may not show up for work on time, heading out the door whenever they feel like, treat their jobs like they were hobbies, really not with much more seriousness than that, and will just get up and quit if their every whim is not indulged. A work place in which the 22 year olds are calling the shots, and take a look at the argument being offered as to why this is the case, something we may well wonder about when we consider, for example, how thoroughly disempowered generation X has been in the workplace. So much so, in fact, that far from asking to be pampered as Trunk's glorious twentysomething divas have supposedly been doing, the members of the crowd immediately preceding generation Y were often viewed as being throughly unreasonable because they asked for safe working conditions, to be paid for the overtime they worked and to have some reasonable limits on that overtime so that they could have personal lives as well as jobs, to in general be allowed to live like human beings and to be treated as such. Why the difference? According to Trunk, because generation X is small and generation Y is large. In power politics, that may work as an explanation, but in the context of the free market dogmas that we are expected to accept without question, as those who (like Trunk) are fond of saying that what is reality in the market defines what is justice, this produces an ideological crisis that Trunk herself does not seem to see. Why? Go back to the Microeconomics 100 course in which you were first indoctrinated into believing that economic might made right, and remember the theory that you were taught.

"That which is scarce becomes dear, that which is abundant becomes cheap". But if labor is just a commodity, as our apologists for outsoucing and other neoliberal delights insist, then labor should be a more valuable commodity when it becomes scarcer, which means that generation X's negotiating strength, member by member, should have been increased by the small size of that generation, and generation Y's negotiating power, on an individual basis, should be decreased by its large numbers. Yet we have Trunk insisting that the exact opposite is the reverse, and who notices the incongruity of this?

Interesting, don't you think? So which is the fantasy? The rosy picture that Trunk is painting for this reportedly privileged generation, or the economic theory that is used to tell us that what common sense would tell us is unjust is merely the inevitable way of the world, and thus above question? Or perhaps, could it be both? What happens to a political ideology should the supposed social science underlying it start to crumble?

Brokeback 1776

Posted to my Yahoo 360 blog first on Thursday August 9, 2007 - 06:39pm (CDT)

History as I'm sure it will be taught someday, brought to us by Pinkwhig ...

Sensitivity Training

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Friday August 3, 2007 - 10:22am (CDT)

Sometimes you just have to show that you care (video previously uploaded to Metacafe by bloodasp69) ...

Sensitivity Training
Uploaded by negativeone. - See more comedy videos.

Can you say chutzpah?

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Friday August 3, 2007 - 10:14am (CDT)

Some stories bring back such happy memories. Here's one:

Japanese companies slam YouTube
Associated Press Writer

TOKYO --A coalition of Japanese television, music and film companies slammed YouTube Thursday, saying the online video sharing service was not doing enough to rid the site of cartoons and other clips that infringe on copyrights.


"YouTube has to stop how it runs its site and get rid of the illegal clips. We want them to reset the service," composer Hideki Matsutake told a joint press conference in Tokyo Thursday. The coalition met with YouTube and Google executives earlier in the week, the second such meeting this year. "There is no middle ground," Matsutake said. "We demand that all copyrighted material be removed immediately." Talks with YouTube and Google will continue, said Matsutake, who was acting as a spokesman for the group.

One of the personal quirks that helped me during my coursework in grad school was that I have a very good long term memory, and so I have no difficulty at all remembering something that our friends in Tokyo might want us to forget at this moment. Let's turn back the clock to the 1980s, at about the time American industry started going south in more ways than one, the Job crunch was beginning to materialise for scientific professionals, and let's remember a brash East Asian country that, as it clamored to be taken more seriously as world economic power, was confronted about a number of its trade practices. One of them, of course, being its habit of hypocritically screaming whenever another country would consider closing its markets to imports from that brash East Asian country without feeling the need to reciprocate by opening its own markets at home, but there was something else. What was it, again?

Oh, yes. It's seems that the budding young economic superpower was in the habit of not honoring patents from overseas. Circuitboards that would be designed in America would be duplicated there, with no greater alteration being made than a changing of the colors of the covers put over the chips, and that was good enough for the government of that brash young power. Complaints about this practice from the United States, made on behalf of home grown companies which had actually spent the money for the research that produced the designs that were being pirated were greeted with a stonewalling test of wills, and on being interviewed, the man in the street in that country seemed to offer a stereotyped response, saying in one way or another that America needed to stop whining. This took away much of the economic incentive to engage in research and development, derailing careers and damaging lives, and doing much to help create the present day rustbelt in the American Northeast and Midwest, many cities to this day having not recovered.

Now, what was the name of that country? I seem to remember it's a big place built on an island chain, east of China, south of Korea, next to the sea of JAPAN.

Thought for the day: what goes around comes around, and it should. If Japan is not going to honor the intellectual property rights of those living outside its territory, those of its own citizens should be shown no more respect. For far too long, that nation has been allowed to steamroller its trading partners into going along with a series of double standards that have benefitted it while scr**ing everybody else. When America had legitimate demands to make of Japan, Japan refused to listen. Now that the situation has reversed, America should absolutely return the favor, and expect those companies headquartered in it to do likewise. Tokyo might squeeze, but Washington can still squeeze a lot harder, and pardon me if I'm blunt, but Japan needs America a lot more than America needs Japan. Without our military support, Japan would be Finlandized by the Chinese at best, and would most likely be on its way to becoming a province of that country. The Cold War is long over, there is no enemy that poses a plausible threat to the United States, and the time for us to take abuse from so-called allies who act like anything but is long since over. Let's start reminding a few of those nonallies that actions have consequences. There is something to be said for holding a grudge.

Half Judaism

First posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Thursday August 2, 2007 - 09:37am (CDT)

Counting my blessings as I view this video by chocolatecakecity.

William Shatner, The Beetles ...

Posted first on my Yahoo 360 blog Wednesday August 1, 2007 - 03:25pm (CDT)

This is just wrong, so very wrong ... and no, I don't know who made this or even who uploaded it ...

Singing Tesla Coils

First posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Wednesday August 1, 2007 - 01:44pm (CDT).

Posted by demjp8RqDA, you're watching an engineer play with one of his toys out near Naperville (a suburb of Chicago) at Duckon, a science fiction convention that has been taking place out there for some years. Yes, the music is being made using the electrical discharges. Very cool.

Sensitive love of the Intifada: Shall we cut the c**p?

First posted on my Yahoo 360 blog Wednesday July 25, 2007 - 12:20am (CDT)

I'm reading a few posts over on Liz Taken's blog, about things that are just sad and pathetic. Here are a few: "Jihad Bee replaces Terror Mouse", "A video sent from a friend", "NY times has selective memory", "Farfour Murdered in Season Finally", "Please sign this Petition (about the practice of 'honor killings'), "For anyone who thinks we can negotiate with Terrorists". "So, about what a menace the muslims are?", some will ask expectantly. No, but how interesting that this would be their take on this, especially in the case of the honor killings article because, as Ms.Taken points out, we're witnessing behavior that is in direct conflict with Islamic law. No, what we're witnessing in most of these posts is a hate movement sustained by people who are culturally Muslim; to oppose that isn't to be anti-Muslim any more than to oppose the (mostly Christian) Ku Klux Klan is to anti-Christian. What I find most interesting is not so much the existence of people like the ones Liz portrays - though they do represent a movement large and dangerous enough that they do need to be noticed - but how some supposedly compassionate Western liberals will counsel the Israelis to deal with this hate movement in their midst, basically telling them to drop their guard, give all that is asked of them and more, appeasing their enemies no matter what the cost. "Being anti-zionist is not the same thing as being anti-semitic", some will say. "We don't hate Jews, we just politely disagree with a few of them".

The thing is, I get to see a bunch of those people from a different point of view, in part because of what I am. People hear the name "Dunphy" and they instantly assume "Irish Catholic", for reasons that elude me assuming that I'm purebreed, even though one would think appearance alone would be enough to convince them otherwise. Some of these very same people seem to have a very definite, narrow image of what a Jew should look like and be like - usually either somebody looking like Woody Allen or that "Neumann" guy from Seinfeld. Short, maybe fat and bald, approaching life and its threats shaking with fear; such is the stereotype. I, on the other hand, am somewhere around 6'6", having grown considerably since I started posting, and my memory of the school bully involves me beating the living snot out of him. To these people, I didn't look the role, and that fact had consequences. I got to hear things that some might have otherwise been shy about letting me hear, and this has been enlightening.

I've heard "nice, liberal" people defending the Holocaust on the basis that "the Jews owned all of the banks". "You know what Jews are like", has been a popular one. That and more, and then, the moment that somebody who does fit the popular image of Yiddishness shows up, out has gone that rhetoric and in has come the forced openmindedness and false sweetness, generally from "nice" people politically leaning to the left of center. If you've ever wondered why I seem to feel insulted on those occasions when somebody has referred to me as being a "liberal", this is one of the reasons why. I respond to that movement, not on paper as a theoretical construct, but as a living reality, one that I've found to be hostile in a sneaky kind of way. I'll accept "Centrist" or "Conservative", depending on where the political pendulum has swung at the moment, maybe "Progressive" though our Politically Correct friends would probably feel ill at the suggestion, but not "Liberal". "Liberal" to me suggests an unwholesome blend of self-righteous hypocrisy and passive aggression, overlying well-established and weakly rationalised bigotries that are barely, if at all, concealed.

When Israeli soldiers are condemned for defending themselves against those who are "merely armed with rocks", as we're expected to be as cooperative in our forgetfulness as to exactly what the most popular means of execution has been in that region for the last few thousand years (stoning), this is not about somebody's love for the Muslims. Note the lack of general outrage among those same "sensitive" elements of the US population during the "Road of Death" incident toward the close of the First Gulf War, when all those being burned to death were guilty of was running for their lives away from a hostile army they knew they couldn't possibly defend themselves against; note how many of the victims were Muslim and note just how lonely an experience questioning that act was in the United States, at the time, not really so very long ago. No, this is about hatred of the Jewish soldiers. It is about an indirect route to homicide, as those offering the sermonettes try to get their intended target to essentially commit suicide by engaging in a course of action that he is very likely to be killed in the course of pursuing. On a larger scale, this is what is being asked of Israel, which is condemned on a regular basis merely for being somewhat diligent in her own self-defense, by a large number of "nice", generally upper class liberal people in the United States, and should the rest of us be surprised by this?

All you have to do to understand so many of them is listen, so when one hears the preaching, perhaps one ought to be willing to be "mean" enough to consider the source, remembering just how much of that "sweetness and light" is an illusion. There is, as I've said before, a hate-filled cultural movement underway, one whose supporters clearly long for a world in which everybody is exactly the same, places no value on the life or dignity of the individual and will stoop to anything to get its way, but it's not Islam. It's Modernism.

The Daily Annoyance, from Google / Blogger this time

Originally posted to my 360 blog at Yahoo Tuesday July 24, 2007 - 05:37pm (CDT)

As you may have noticed from looking at the feeds on my Yahoo 360 profile I have a place at Blogger, which I had been thinking of doing most of my posting at, henceforth. In theory, it is my main blog, even if I've been doing a lot more posting here in the last few months, so this didn't represent a change of plans, so much as it did a return to what my plans were, but sometimes plans need to be rethought, even over as little a thing as one's choice of provider. I find myself doing a little rethinking right now. I went over to edit a post, which is now a draft again and not because I want it to be. As I go to edit it, I see this notice atop the page:

This blog has been locked by Blogger's spam-prevention robots. You will not be able to publish your posts, but you will be able to save them as drafts.

Save your post as a draft or click here for more about what's going on and how to get your blog unlocked.

I was, to say the least, curious, as I've never attempted to sell anything in the brief history of my little place. This turned out to be a very good thing, because on clicking on "click here", I found myself presented with a notice that if I didn't notify Google / Blogger within two weeks, I think it was, that my blog would be automatically deleted! It had been flagged, apparently, because (according to Google) it displayed the "characteristics" of a spam blog. What those "characteristics" might be, I can't imagine, and if you look at the little thing, I think you might be a little mystified, too. I will say that this was definitely not cool, especially during summer when one should expect that people are going to be out. The only reason I looked is because, by pure chance, I looked at my most recent blog post, thought "OK, people aren't going to entirely get that I'm telling a joke because 'Dunphy' doesn't 'sound Jewish', as if such an expression even made sense since Jewishness is matrilineal and surnames are patrilineal, and how many of the ancient Israelites would have had names sounding like Abramowitz, anyway, such a headache I'm getting ... where's my iced coffee?" What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Blogs that people take time, good time, to put together, being put up for deletion while they're away, without any human being having so much as having taken the time to look before they were put up for deletion. This is a breaking of faith with the user who, reasonably, expects that his work will not evaporate without reason. Far from living up to that trust, the company has squandered it through an act of sheer recklessness. As Google itself writes

"Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive."

"We apologize for having risked putting your time and effort to waste, by having oversight on our system being done by what we know is an inherently unreliable piece of artificial intelligence software" ... and thank you for being our guinea pig, I guess. I am, to say the least, very disappointed with Blogger and Google, at a time when I was already busy enough being disappointed with Lycos.

Skateboarding Dog

First posted to my 360 blog on Yahoo, Sunday July 22, 2007 - 05:45am (CDT)

Found this on YouTube, where it was uploaded by rnickeymouse ...

Lycos/Tripod offers a merry f*** you to its users!

First posted to my old Yahoo 360 blog Tuesday July 17, 2007 - 05:03pm (CDT)

There are some moments that just leave one scratching one's head in wonder. One of those moments happened just now. Let's say that you're running a free webhosting service. Presumably, since your income depends on the ad revenue generated by the visits to the sites on your system, content provided to you free of charge by the way, you might be seen as having a vested interest in supporting your users, as they try to make the best sites they can. So, what would be one thing that you might want to really, really, really NOT want to do?

How about, arbitrarily lock people out of their own accounts, thwarting any attempt on their part to add new material to their sites or otherwise update them in any way? Forget the usual babbling about the accounts being free and beggars not being choosers - which is garbage anyway, because we pay for those services with the loan of the content we provide - and get back to the common sense question of why on earth a provider would want to do that. Yet I can report firsthand that Tripod (a subsidiary of Lycos) did exactly that, just last night.

I attempted to login to Tripod in order add a little material to Joseph Dunphy's Cowboy Wannabee Site, and to my amazement, as I clicked on the "login" button, found myself on the Lycos search engine page. "Has the system mangled my password?", I wondered, knowing that I hadn't, because I had it written down. I clicked on the link on the Lycos page marked "forgot username or password" - and absolutely nothing happened. I went nowhere. I closed then closed all but one of the widows, cleared my cache and rebooted - standard operating procedure. Same result, and I noticed a few other interesting details. See the part where it says "write a blog, build a site, share your photos"? I clicked on the button that says "start now", which a prospective new user would hit if he wanted to begin a new account and found myself, not on an application form - but back on that seach engine page!!! Anything I did ending up leaving me there, and logged into nothing.

Clinging to my admittedly mystifying belief that when something has broken down, one ought to write to support about it, I did, and promptly got to watch support play the stand BOFH game of pretending that the problem didn't exist, as it sent out a form letter response.

Your message on Mon, Jul 16th 2007 5:42 pm

Your system will not let me log into Tripod, and when I click on the "lost password" link, nothing happens. Not that the password I'm entering could possibly be wrong - I have the darned thing written down. What happens when I try to log in, is that instead of ending up in my member space, I end up on the Lycos search engine page

where the "lost username or password" link I tried clicking on is displayed.

Message by Tyler on Tue, Jul 17th 2007 6:50 am

Please note that we are able to log into your account with your username and password.

Clearing your cache will likely fix most of the errors you are receiving as well as significantly improve the speed and performance of your browser.

The following procedures provide steps to clear the cache memory from your browser:

Clearing Cache on Microsoft® Internet Explorer 7.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select INTERNET OPTIONS
Under the heading entitled Browsing History, click the Delete button
To clear the cookies select the DELETE COOKIES button
To clear the stored temporary Internet files select the Delete Files button
Click close to return to the Internet Options menu, then click OK to return to your main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Mozilla Firefox 2.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select Clear Private Data
Ensure that the Cache and Cookies selection boxes are checked off.
Click the button labeled Clear Private Data Now.
You will automatically be returned to your main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Netscape 8.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select Privacy.
Click the Clear button next to the Cookies heading and click the OK button when prompted.
Click the Clear button next to the Cache headingand click the OK button when prompted.
Click OK to return to the main browser window.

Clearing Cache on Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.x

Select the TOOLS menu, then select INTERNET OPTIONS
To clear the cookies select the DELETE COOKIES button in the middle of the window under the Temporary Internet files section
Click OK in the Delete Cookies window
Click OK to return to the main browser window.

Tyler D.
Customer Service
Lycos Services.

Your message on Tue, Jul 17th 2007 12:44 pm


I cleared my cache last night before I wrote to you, and I did so repeatedly, and I got the same result. Further, just out of curiosity, I checked to see what would happen were I to try to go to the form used to set up a new Tripod account. Once again, I found myself on the Lycos search page.

So you'll forgive me, I hope, if I view your response with more than a little skepticism, and ask you to please respond to a serious problem report with something more serious than an attempt to bluff the user into believing that he didn't see what he saw, as you dust off the same form letter every ISP seems to send to every user who reports any problem with the system. Clearing the cache does not cure all ills. Sometimes you guys will need to actually break down and do some maintenance.

But if they're actually going to do any maintenance, I've seen no sign that this is going to be the case. All that "Tyler" (if that is his real name) was willing to do was cut and paste the form letter that you just saw and expect me to be satisfied with that, and I obviously can't be satisfied with that. Not being able to get into the file manager is not something that I, as a user, can simply work around. This is something that is going to stop me absolutely dead in the water. As for Lycos itself, the company these staffers are supposedly working for, how does it imagine its Tripod subsidiary will fare when its users, discovering that they've been locked out of their own accounts, eventually give up and move to other providers, and new users, ones who I assume wouldn't have heard of this, find that they can't sign up?

I'm going to write to the technical contact for Tripod and see what the company has to say about this, and be sure to post about any further developments on this blog. But until then, I've added a new member site to the Lycos Homepage Ring, a forum entitled "ISP Reports: Tripod, Ringsurf, Webring and the Rest, where you can talk about what has gone right and what has gone wrong at the service you use. New members will always be sought, but as usual, postmodernists, corporate shills and other undesirables need not apply.

Added Thursday, July 19: Googlegroup post

A Three State Solution for Palestine?

Original posting on my Yahoo 360 blog Saturday June 30, 2007 - 01:16pm (CDT)

Yesterday, I grabbed a copy of the Chicago Tribune with blogging in mind and started scanning it for stories to write about, and the pickings were slim. There's the problem when one does this - one can go to the newspaper, which for budgetary reasons is limited to the publications of stories that are little more than soundbites, or one can go online where space is abundant but credibility is not. But I did come across one piece that got enough of a "huh?" out of me to merit a post.

"In the West Bank, Hamas supporters told to lie low"

NO! Surely that can't be the case. Why, everybody know that there is war in the Middle East only because of those wicked, wicked Israelis, and the Palestininian authority has taken over in Gaza and is expanding its territory in the West Bank, so all should be peace and love and butterflies and daffodils. Is this not so? Maybe not.

"Nablus, West Bank - Khulud al-Masri, a deputy mayor of this Palestinian city, doesn't go to work at city hall anymore. A city councilor representing Hamas, she was ordered out of her office by gunmen from the rival Fatah faction last week in retaliation for Hamas' rout of Fatan-lead forces and takeover of the Gaza strip. 'They told me, 'This is your last day here. You can leave safely now, but tomorrow we will prevent you'', she recalled. 'I haven't been back since.'"

Now, help me out here - which of these groups was set up as part of an Israeli plot? Being as busy as I am with our own American Jewish plot to take over the banks and press in the US (a role I've cleverly hidden by living below the poverty line), to say nothing of the fluoridation of the drinking water of Aryans everywhere, I don't always have time to keep up with what the boys overseas have been up to, but I guess they've been busy, because this was not an isolated incident.

"The other deputy mayor, hafez Shaheen, also a Hamas representative, has received similar warnings. He ventures to city hall only every few days, mostly after office hours, for paperwork and brief consultation with Fatah council members who are still running daily affairs. 'I avoid going not because I'm afraid but because I want to avoid complicating things', Shaheen said."

Arguably, they could not be complicated any further than they already have been.

"The state of the city administration in Nablus, where Hamas controls 13 or 15 council seats, is a window into the altered balance of forces in the West Bank since the militant Islamic group seized control of the Gaza strip. Hamas officials in the West Bank, swept to power in local and parliamentary elections in the past two years, have been driven underground by a Fatah intimidation campaign, and the group's supporters are lying low. Offices and institutions linked to Hamas have been ransacked and burned, dozens of the group's leaders and supporters arrested by Fatah-led security forces, and civil servants affiliated with Hamas warned not to show up for work."

See where this is going? In the beginning (sort of), there was the Palestinian trust territory which was divided into a Jewish state (Israel) and an Arab state (Jordan), but that little detail was forgotten somewhere along the way, so the Jewish state was eventually divided itself, into yet another Arab state and a smaller Jewish state, and as for why the Arab state saw no splitting, given the reality of how many of the Sephardim were themselves uprooted from Middle Eastern homes they had lived in for centuries? Don't ask so many questions.

Now Hamas would seem to be in control of Gaza, and Fatah in control of the West Bank which means that instead of having two states in the initial Jewish state's territory (Israel the diminished and Palestine, not to be confused with the original trust territory), we now have three - Israel (maybe we can call it "Israel II"), the Gaza Strip ("Hamastan"?) and the West Bank, which I guess we can call "Palestine the diminished" or "Palestine III", as it is clearly the larger of the two chunks, or we could be even handed and call it "Fatahstan". How about "East Palestine" and "West Palestine"? So many possibilities, so many questions, not the least of which is "when will these two rump states start firing rockets at each other, a la Lebanon, with the trajectories taking them through Israeli airspace, and how long will the Israelis be expected to accept this". But then, we all recall, I'm sure, the way in which the Israelis were expected to accept it and not strike back when missiles for Iraq weren't just flying over Israel, but were being target on Israel, which seems a perfectly reasonable request for the American government to make, when one considers the mild response it gives when any portion of the United States gets bombed. No hypocrisy there, no siree! And no democracy in Palestine.

"'The aim was to take control of the West Bank, and we have it under control,' said Mahdi Masraqa, a local leader of Al Asqa Martyrs Brigades, whose gunmen led the anti-Hamas rampage in Nablus. 'Hamas is a banned organization; we will watch it and strike at any of its activities.'"

To say the least. Later in the article, we read

"In one building, a scorched first-floor facade leads to what used to be a women's center, Al-Juthur, or Roots, that was run by al-masri, the deputy mayor. The center sponsored embroidery and cooking projects, fitness classes, computer courses and a kindergarten. Now it is a blackened wreck, its equipment looted and burned.

'What does this have to do with what happened in Gaza?' said al-Masri. This place served people's needs. What is the message?'

Al-Masri said she and her husband left home for a week with their five children after the gaza takeover, fearing an attack."

Fears which do not seem unwarranted. Let us now ask the forbidden question - is an independent Palestine still sounding like such a good idea? How viable is this state looking? But, on the other hand, would Egypt really want to send its forces into a place like Gaza, and how comfortable should Israel be expected with the thought of the Egyptian army being so close at hand, even if the Egyptians were masochistic enough to agree to be there and had the funds to support an indefinite peacekeeping mission? How much trust has been earned?

An obvious solution presents itself, and I'll leave it to the reader to guess what it is, because I guarantee that almost nobody is going to like it and no, I'm not talking about genocide, a nonsolution I've already heard suggested. Still, maybe something not so nice, or perhaps rather, something that might not be seen as being very nice, if one takes Libertarianism and a Western definition of "Modernism" as given, together forming something that should be seen as being rationally desirable for all people in all places.

Go away, Paris Hilton!

Original posting on my Yahoo 360 blog Saturday June 23, 2007 - 10:36am (CDT)

I think it's just terrible, the way spoiled rich heiresses get treated in this country. Don't you?

Especially when they're so talented.

The first video was from youtube user GoAwayParisOfficial and the second was from omovies, and you'll be thrilled to know that you can fight corporate privilege the old fashioned way: by buying stuff.

Globalization's latest gift to you and me

First posted on my Yahoo 360 blog Monday June 18, 2007 - 05:47pm (CDT)

Shipping the manufacturing of consumer goods overseas to countries where US consumer protection legislation doesn't apply, with those goods allowed easy access to US markets in the name of "free trade"? Oh, yes, what a good idea, as this story about the Colgate scare helps to show.

But hey, nobody's forcing you to brush your teeth, right?

"Identity Soup" ... ummm, ummm ....

Original posting on my Yahoo 360 blog Wednesday June 13, 2007 - 02:07am (CDT)

Referencing this post to my Googlegroup, entitled My reply to Dvorak Uncensored, "Identity Soup - Intolerance or Tradition" ...

Fiendish French oppression in action!Yes, this mishling is feeling more than a little embarassment, that the embarassment is connected to a part of his heritage, and it's not the French part, right now. In the past, I have heard arguments that "Jews are intolerant, too, man", and when I've heard them, have generally had little difficulty rebutting them. Consider the fact that an integral part of the process of conversion to Judaism is the attempt on the part of the rabbi to try to talk the would-be convert out of converting - if one harbored any desire to impose one's religion on another, would one do that? There would, in fact, be no conceptual basis for such a desire on the rabbi's part. Jewish Law is tribal law, something that comes out of a covenant between G-d and Israel, not something that is thought of as representing any sort of categorical imperative, binding on everybody, everywhere - and if He wished to establish a different covenant with another nation, who would we be to tell the King of the Universe that He could not?

Judaism has been, with what until recently I would have called a logical inevitability, very much a live and let live kind of religion. There are very real demands made of those who would follow it, but these have not been demands that we have made of anybody other than ourselves, aside, of course, from that which is properly part of the moral law. "Thou shalt not kill" ("kill" in the sense of murder) is a good thing to be evangelistic about, but one really isn't about to see a group of Hassidim lobbying to have the banks shut down on Saturday, as passionate as they are in their own personal commitment to Jewish Law, including that part of it that deals with doing business on Shabbes, and the non-Orthodox would be even less inclined to make the sacred secular, in such things. So why would I be embarassed, when tradition would seem to give me so much reason to be proud of the Jewish people, as I almost always have been in the past?

Because lately I'm seeing a number of Jews, younger ones apparently, act in a manner that strikes me as being screechingly, shrilly un-Jewish in its intolerance. In the post I link to, I talk about an incident in which the distribution of a very French soup, one that seems very much like something my Eastern French grandmother would have made, was being forcibly halted by government action because the soup was made from pork, and thus was unsuitable for Muslim and Jewish poor people. Generally speaking, such things have produced a shrug among Jewish poor people - we all know what the United Jewish Appeal is. Jewish communities have created their own relief efforts for years, and we've understood the need to take care of our own. Certainly, one didn't see Jews arguing that kashrut should be imposed on the goyim, because a Jew might wander into one of their soup kitchens.

Until recently, that is, and I hope this is just a few crazies I'm hearing from, and not the start of a new groundswell. "The fact that this is being called identity soup says it all" has been the refrain from a number of allegedly Jewish posters, who have seriously argued that any attempt to maintain a French cultural identity would be inherently intolerant and racist!!! I've seen allegedly Jewish participants in discussions seriously argue in support of a demand that I had apparently wrongly assumed to be purely the work of some of the fringe elements of the Muslim community a la Al Quaeda, seriously arguing that French food had to be made kosher and halal, and that traditional French food should not be suffered to be served in France.

Note the use of the word "allegedly". On the Internet, nobody knows that you're a dog, as the saying goes, but then again, I've encountered some of these same sentiments offline, where I've been much more certain of who was what, and it is deeply disconcerting. This is not a matter of saying "why aren't Jews better than everybody else", this is a matter of wondering, out loud, how one can find a good number of them embracing an evil so clearly at odds with their own religion. Consider what we celebrate on Chanukah - the preservation of Jewish ways against the efforts at forced homogenization on the part of the Graeco-Syrian rulers of Israel during the Hellenistic era, a much earlier era's version of globalization. Consider what has always been said of that celebration - that we celebrate, not just our own people's freedom to maintain its identity as a people and preserve its own ways, but that of every people to do likewise.

This real tolerance goes back deeply into antiquity. Consider, for example, what did not happen when David conquered the Moabites, et al. He did not forcible Judaize his new vassal states. All that made them who they were was accepted, within reason. That was his way, and it is ours, so who are these haughty children we have produced who would presume to tell a modern people - the French - who they have the right to be, demanding that they surrender their very existence as a distinct culture, and what excuse can they find for such outrageous arrogance, in a background that has for so long pointed people away from that particular brand of arrogance?

Do you see why I am embarrassed and uncomfortable? When the youngest contingent of adult Jews in my midst can be seen producing more than its share of narrowminded, culturally intolerant idiots, there's an awkward question that arises - who is in the community that raised these disappointing children? Perhaps I have just had bad luck offline and encountered a string of young people far worse than the actual norm, and certainly I can't deny that I seem to be some kind of magnet for the worst elements of society, but if this sample of the local Jewish youth that Life has brought into my presence is not so very atypical? If so, then I can't sit back at a comfortable distance thinking "wow, did those people foul up", without wondering if maybe I was one of the people who fouled up and horrifically so, if these are the values we're passing along to the next generation coming. How did they become the heavies, these young people of ours, and where did we go wrong, as their elders? Let's apply a little logic - if one was never a dissident in one's community (I know I wasn't), and the community starts tilting in a strange and bad direction, how logical is it to think "oh, it's those other people who did that, surely not me"?

Yes, I'm childless so far, unless one of my ex-girlfriends has a surprise for me, but you know what a shul is like - every adult becomes an influence, so who can truly say "it's not my responsibility"? But I can honestly say that I'm baffled, and more than a little concerned.

Buy Danish - Let Freedom Prevail

John Edwards is feeling pretty

First posted on my old Yahoo 360 blog Tuesday June 5, 2007 - 03:28pm (CDT)

Yes, I'm relocating content from Livejournal, starting with this short piece posted to Youtube by OneoftheImmortals.

Mildly amusing, and an opportunity for Edwards to show a lot more class than some of his semi-anonymous detractors, which he did. (Video posted by wnycradio).

But that I could say the same of the Livejournal community, where I first posted this, but ... oh, forget it. If you wanted to post a film on YouTube on your own 360 blog, or any other site for that matter, here's the code that I used to post the first film, which I found floating around somewhere:

<center><embed src= width=425 height=350 type=application/x-shockwave-flash allowScriptAccess="none" wmode="transparent"> </center></embed>

The first film is found at this url on Youtube

so if you have a film at location

where "ID" is some alphanumeric string, and you replace "2AE847UXu3Q" with the string (in the url for the film you want) in the code above, you should get a code snippet that will allow you to insert the film of your choice on the page of your choice. Livejournal, Blogger and a few other blogging hosts seem to require special coding, though, so check with YouTube's site about that if you wish to post a film to another blog hosting service.

"On campus, politics determine who is subject to punishment"

Original posting on my Yahoo 360 blog at Sunday May 13, 2007 - 10:16pm (CDT)

So lazy! I'll do little more than link to this post on and observe, out loud, that while I'm not familiar with the specific individuals involved, that I found something very familiar about the standard of injustice being described. Let's ponder the absurdity of sending wave after wave of young people through a place where the fix is always in and the very notion of fair play isn't so much as paid lip service, and then being surprised when a good number of them come out with more than slightly dented consciences themselves. The faculty and administration at our universities were once expected to remember that they were role models for their students, and so, even if being merely human, they could be expected to sometimes slip short of sainthood, they were nevertheless expected to hold themselves to a much higher standard than that commonly encountered in the outside world.

There is a considerable difference between striving to live up to a higher code and slipping, and simply not bothering to try at all, as one tries to see exactly what one can get away with. The tragedy of our era is that those whose recognition of that difference is most crucial, such as those who have so much power in determining the course of the beginning of a young person's adult life, aren't expected to recognize it at all, and that the free-for-all that results is reacted to with a wink and a shrug, rather than with the widespread sense of outrage that civilised attitudes would demand.

I've now officially turned into my father

Posted to my old Yahoo 360 blog Thursday May 3, 2007 - 09:41pm, before being reposted here (CDT)

Image links to Yahoo 360 profile
I've been getting a few Yahoo! 360 invitations lately, one of which came from this lady, who is about the right age to be a college freshman; the image links to her 360 profile.

So, beautiful young woman writes to me, saying that she would like to stay in touch, and my first thought.

"But I don't understand what she was writing about!"

Not even a whistful "oh, to be that age, again", just a "I wonder what her literary style is", before I suddenly have a mental picture of my younger self of some years back looking at me reproachfully and going "dude, you are now officially the world's biggest geek - when the pretty girl asks you if you'd like to talk you say yes". Then one very scary day, it occurs to you that that didn't occur to you, and you don't even want it to occur to you and wouldn't even if she were closer to your own age. Oh, and that while we're at it, that you have absolutely no desire to go club hopping at any point in the forseeable future, and looking toward the corner of the room, you've noticed that you have a favorite chair, and that spending a night in it doing your reading doesn't sound so bad.

I picture my younger self looking on, jaw dropping, going "this isn't funny, man, you're freaking me out, what's this PTA wannabee stuff, come on, ..." as he starts to fade into oblivion. There is no escape. My destiny has finally tracked me down. I've become an adult.

Would anybody like a nice, hearty winter vegetable soup?

A Surreal Day at Ameritech, a few years ago.

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog on Wednesday April 25, 2007 - 03:47pm (CDT)

Ah, memories ...

I'm reading a post entitled "Constructing a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bearskins" at GlobalPov (to which I posted a response) and a delightful incident immediately comes to mind. Some years back, I was being stalked by a psychotic ex-girlfriend, and oh, the wonderful questions that one often gets to hear from those who should know better, when one says that. "What do you do to these girls, Joseph?" Notice that when women get stalked by their ex-boyfriends, you don't see such a question being asked of them. What did I do to her?

I became part of her delusion. She became convinced that a certain celebrity was plotting her assassination, I asked the forbidden question "what makes you think that", and paranoiacs do not handle skepticism well. There are some people who put on a great performance and seem very sane and stable when you first meet them, but then one day, you learn better, and oh dear G-d, did I learn better. Ever see "Fatal Attraction"?

I moved and then moved again, being as meticulous as mathematicians and engineers tend to be as I went to each and every location that I could think of where my personal information was stored, telling them about what was going on, and really, just about anything that leaves one's door splattered with blood does tend to get people's attention, as it certainly did mine. Everywhere I went, I was assured that those working there understood the situation and that my personal information would not be divulged, and almost all who said this kept their word. But one only needs one exception, just one, for information to start circulating.

A few weeks of misguided comfort later, I discovered that my brand new and supposedly confidential address was, once more, being circulated to the junk mail senders, when I noticed that the junk mail was appearing with my personal name affixed. I tracked down those who sent the mail, asked them where they got my name, and then tracked down those people, who in turn got it from another group of people ... and following the trail, eventually found my way back to Ameritech, who had assured me that my address would not be given out! I was, to say the least, curious about that, especially because they knew about the death threats. "Guys, why did you do that and what happened to your word", I wanted to know.

What I had asked of them and what they had agreed to, going into some detail as to the manner of their agreement, was to set my account so that my phone number would be publicly available but not my street address. I would not do that today, having learned how fond some netizens are of responding to online political disagreements with obscene phone calls placed at odd hours, but in those days I had just one lunatic to worry about, and I thought that I could survive an odd phone call or two. (A few shots from a .38 would have been a different matter). Like a lot of people, I had old friends that I had lost contact with who I wanted to hear from again, and if they came into town, I wanted them to be able to be able to get in touch, back in those days before webpages were invented. This was all explained to the Ameritech representative, who then suggested the very type of account I got and said that everything was taken care of, which made what had then followed all the more interesting. "So guys, what's the deal?"

What the deal was, was that when they said they wouldn't divulge my street address, they had their fingers crossed behind their backs. They had a policy on their books that held that if the phone number was being released, then the address could be sold to telemarketers and the like, and that there was no need to inform customers as to the existence of this policy. They then sold my personal information, and even after I made all of my information (supposedly) publicly unavailable, continued selling it until, thoroughly and justifiably enraged by what was occuring as well as by the fact that I was successfully tracked down using the information sold (and got to move again), I called up somebody's supervisor and screamed at him until he agreed to get his company to behave itself, and the squeaky wheel finally got some grease.

A lot of libertarian-leaning people have some very romantic ideas about what the free market will do, ideas that reality seems to have little impact on. I posted about this elsewhere, and was amazed at the people who would write in to defend the company, one idiot in particular writing in to say that no, I hadn't shouted at the supervisor - and no, he wasn't from Ameritech, so how would he know? He just knew, that was all. But the best came from somebody who shall remain unnamed who insisted that Ameritech had the legal right to do as it did, because when I got them to agree to not give out my address to anybody, I didn't get them to stipulate that "everybody" included telemarketers. "So, in other words, for the agreement to be binding, I have to have seperate agreements for every single possible subset of everybody?", I asked, absolutely incredulous. Apparently so, and here's an interesting number for you to crank out on your calculator - at the rate of one per second, how long would I have needed to list all possible subsets of the first 100 people). Give you a hint - that's two raised to the one hundredth power seconds, and when you calculate how many years that is, you'lll find that it is some orders of magnitude larger than the expected length of time before the heat death of the universe. As inefficient as Ameritech might have been, I suspect that they might have been able to make a sale in slightly less time. What our far right-wing friend was trying to offer as a reasonable demand to make of the customer wishing to opt out and was claiming to be a matter of law, was simply not in the realm of physical possibility, which I guess was the real point. To leave the illusion of respecting the individual's right to opt out, but redefining that right on terms that would render it meaningless, preserving a little bit of the Neo-conservative free-for-all that a once reasonably orderly society was degenerating into, in this and so many other ways.

G-d forbid that a business should have to honor its commitments, right?

These were the old days and there was no Web, or at least most of us didn't know about it, yet, so the information died there and the worst that came out of all of this, in the end, aside from the cost of all of that relocating, was the memory of some truly assinine discussions, but if such an incident happened to somebody today? Even after Ameritech or somebody else stopped giving out the information, it would still be out on those sites, and being copied onto others. How, on these terms, is somebody who finds himself in the situation I did back then, supposed to get his life back? Even if one should choose to never have a social life, which is about the only way of ensuring that one will never get to know a psychopath - are we to all refrain from posting anything that some lunatic, somewhere, might get violently angry about, knowing that there is now a cottage industry devoted to helping stalkers find their victims? Think about it. What legitimate use is there for a site of this nature? If somebody really wants to be found or really wants to share something about himself, creating a webpage with or without contact information is easy and one need not even pay for the hosting, as there are stable providers who will host one's site for free: Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire and Bravenet come to mind, to say nothing of Myspace, Blogger et al. What a site like Spock is doing then, is helping its users find those who don't wish to be found and get personal information about them that they don't want to give, and if they don't wish to be found or they don't wish to let others know something about themselves, isn't that their right? What good is a right that others are left free to trample?

The fact that some of our ideologue friends don't seem to get is that privacy isn't just a luxury, it isn't even just a right, it is at times an absolute necessity. There are unstable people out in the world and there is no good way to ensure that one will not run into them, but at the very least one should have the legal right to insist that they not be given too much assistance as they go looking for a map to one's front door, and I dispute both the sanity and the decency of anybody who would argue otherwise. Let's be serious. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Internet needs responsible governmental regulation, and it needs it today.

Jessica Lynch speaking out.

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog on Tuesday April 24, 2007 - 12:47pm (CDT)

This kind of honesty always comes as a welcome surprise: Jessica Lynch denies Army's account. The lady refused to play along when others tried to make her into a legend, pointing to others who deserved such credit more.

Some still believe in honor.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why one kills a feed from one's own blog

First posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Saturday April 21, 2007 - 09:18pm (CDT)

Very recently, I set up a livejournal for a few reasons. I wanted to have a place where I could post videos on youtube, whose owners have insisted on setting their system so that one has to give it the password for one's blog before it will give one the code for embedding a video into one's blog. I wasn't about to give them or anybody else my Yahoo or Blogger password. What I needed was a blog that I wouldn't be as upset about losing, should somebody at the other end misuse the information I was sending to this unfamiliar company, contrary to what is usually considered just basic common sense on matters of security. Also, having an account at another large provider like Livejournal would have the virtue of allowing me to post replies to blogs on that other service.

I set up a new blog called "Stuck in Limbo"

(url and link removed)

and then set up blog feeds, only to make an annoying discovery, which one can see for oneself just by following this permanent link

(url and link removed)

Looks really shabby, doesn't it? The formatting doesn't carry over to individual posts, when one reaches them through a feed. Why they would set it up this way, I don't know and I don't care. One might also note that there is no provision for setting up feeds there, or for creating a blog roll, meaning that I can't really link from there to other sites of mine, I can't swap links and owing to the very limited formatting choices available, I can't even make my livejournal look like anything other than a site one might have put together sometime around 1996.

I might put a little effort into it, but the kind of "drop dead" attitude that leaps out of these design choices does nothing to make me want to put a lot of effort into making my livejournal into anything other than the minimum effort that I'm being encouraged to make by the provider. The best that I can do is keep the amount of text on the new place to a minimum, just showing a lot of films, so the dodginess of the look is no more of an issue than it needs to be, and not use any permanent links - and that means no feeds from that blog.

I guess that takes care of any trust issues with third party providers who don't seem to respect security consciousness, because I won't have any writing to lose over there? Yes, at least there's that. Why are people like this?

Comment added later: Maybe I'm assuming the worst too quickly, projecting past bad experiences (eg. the guy at Internet Trash who flew into a rage when I reported the nonworking FTP on his service) into an assumption of a future bad experience. I'll report the problem and we'll see whether Livejournal can handle the news any more maturely or professionally than have a number of other services I could name. At this point, how much do I really stand to lose if they lose their minds? Maybe they'll pleasantly surprise me?

There's a first time for everything.

Note added June 5: But this was not to be the first time for that, as noted in this post to my Googlegroup. I've removed "Stuck in Limbo" from my blogroll, and will probably only be using my livejournal membership for commenting in the future.

Note added, October 7, 2011: I've since recycled the name "Stuck in Limbo" - it's going to be the name of my real time photography microblog on Typepad. Livejournal would eventually fix this "feature", but was never willing to work on its notorious censorship issues, which seemed to stem from its willingness to give unchecked administrative power to adolescent volunteers. I mean this literally - at least one former member of the abuse team described himself as having been "a typical teenager" at the time he started work on the team. Use your common sense, and imagine how that would work, in real life.

I decided that I didn't need that headache, which is why you aren't seeing any links to Livejournal in this post.

I've started using Technorati

Originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog on Friday April 20, 2007 - 08:12am (CDT)

Or at least I'm trying to. Technorati has been fouling up, or maybe Yahoo has, or how about both? I went through Technorati's bleepity-bleep "claim your blog" process, and got to enjoy the experience of being given the runaround by a mindless piece of software. First, the system will give one a piece of code to insert in a new blog post, which I did. (That's where this post first came from). Then one clicks on a button saying "release the spiders", I which I did, only to get this error message:

"Sorry, your claim could not be completed because we couldn't find the claim code on your site. Please make sure you've followed all the steps above and try again.

I go over to have Technorati ping my blog, to make sure that it is seeing the updated version on which one will find the link and wonder of wonders, discover that every time you do that, their system changes the url on the link one needs to insert. Isn't that a hoot?

To make the system work, one needs to have the code one will get after one pings, before one pings, meaning that one has to sent that information back in time to one's earlier self, and good luck with that . What can one do? Other than report the problem, shrug, note that I've made a good faith effort and stop caring. The question is, who should I stop caring about. As per Technorati's suggestion, I checked this mini-blog over at the validator service and got this impressive menu of errors, not a one of which I could fix, as one needs root level access to redo the source code on this blog. Lovely. Assuming that the problem isn't the validator, and if it wasn't, how would I know?

Here's the link Technorati's system provided me. I've done my part, now let's see if they care enough about what it is that they do, to do their part as well. I'll give them until tonight, but that's it. The maddening question is - who are "they"? Technorati or Yahoo? Do I stop bothering with the service or with this blog? One tends to assume that Yahoo will be at least marginally technically competent, but that code check was really discouraging. Then again, a check of my place over at Blogger produced even more errors, and that got into Technorati just fine. Both pages seem to display well, so maybe the validator is what is messed up? Oh, and how did working this one out become my job?

Aftermath: Technorati had a decent work around for the problem, so the whole problem became a moot point: Instead of using the full blog url, one uses name)

or, in the case of this blog

for very minor historical reasons

Comments, added in October: It wasn't that decent of a workaround - Technorati still couldn't find links to any of my posts on my 360 blog, not even the ones that I knew existed, because they were links that I had made myself, on my other blogs!

At the time of this reposting, Yahoo 360 is due for elimination in a few months, so if you're coming in much later, that short url might take you nowhere. I include it only for the sake of making this archive as complete as possible. I'll talk about this later.

Twit watch: Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech

First posted on my Yahoo 360 blog Friday April 20, 2007 - 04:53am (CDT)

Interesting what one finds, sometimes. I found this on a Technorati search under the terms "Virginia Tech". Profanity softened as per Yahoo's TOS.

Shane of Marietta, Georgia writes

"that cho a**hole

little fucking n** sends a bunch of pictures of himself trying to look like some kinda thug to nbc ... by the way...i can kinda understand why he would be interested in shooting himself after having to look at that mug in the mirror his whole life). ..."

not that there is anything racist about that at all. No, of course not. By the way, Shawn, "N**" has traditionally been a derogatory word for those of Japanese descent. The Virginia Tech shooter was Korean. Not that this is going to slow our racist friend down one bit as he baits the next kid whose family just made the mistake of moving into his hometown from Osaka or Taipei, I suppose. Good thing that this was an isolated incident, huh?

Oops, maybe not .... Cunning Linguist writes

"fucking g**k!"

Current mood: angry

it's been a while since i've written here, and usually i don't write about things which are serious. however i feel i should get something off my chest.

i was at a local grocery store buying some breakfast cereal (honeycomb, because it kicks a**.) when some caucasian guy decided that it would be appropriate to pick me out of a crowd and vent his rage at the virginia tech shooting at me.

"hey g**k! yeah you you slant eyed piece of s**t! i'm talking to YOU!"

naturally this got my attention, seeing as how i'm asian.

"excuse me? what did you just say?" i enquired.

"yeah you heard me g**k! i bet you're REAL happy that your friend in virginia murdered all those people!"

i remember distinctly feeling a sinking sensation in my stomach, like my guts were all being compacted into it.

"are you proud of how your g**k buddy slaughtered all those people? well? are you? ... he continued on his rantings as a crowd attracted by his screaming started to gather, i saw the faces of many. some sympathetic, some looking as if his hatred being directed towards me was deserved. ... "f**k you! the ONLY tragedy is that you goddamn g**ks weren't the ones that were killed! get on your f**king boat and go back to korea!" he screamed in my face, slapping my purchase out of my hand and kicking it away.

... it makes no sense, NONE. come on people, we're better than that. "

Not by much, to judge from from some of the quotes wal-loveless shares with us:

"Mauryce(11 hours ago)

Shhesh i say we should gather all the asian and mexicans and send them back on thier boats. Especially Koreans thier the most racists of all asians and viets too...freakin immigrants i tell u, LOOK how you scared our country. NO BODY LIKE's YOU G**KS NOW and you will feel the backlash around the country....

crhmaniac (10 hours ago)

f**k nigg**s, sp*cs, ghandis, ch**ks, g**ks, j*ps and any other person of color. your just as bad as a nigg*r you fagg*t. get with the times, we arent racist, were white pride. and for your f**king info we arent the minority anymore, maybe you should watch some news and see how many of us there are you f**king s**tbag n*gger b*tch. FTG - F**k The Ghetto

biggino2007 (1 day ago)

a FU##### g**k did this hope u route in hell

tintin166 (12 hours ago)

f**king korean !!!

damn them all to hell!!! f**king animals!! even in asia ,nobody like them

winrx (6 hours ago)

Korean guy was probably a paranoid schizophrenic and was never diagnosed as such - this is what happens when you don't take your pysch meds....!!!

Osmium14 (13 hours ago)

The sl*pe walks into a dorm, sees his race-mixing Jewess girlfriend with a n*gger, shoots them both and then goes on to shoot 30 other people dead (hopefully, mostly more non-whites like that peruvian b*aner that died), and then shoots himself dead. Perfect story with a perfect ending.

jazzandpunk (14 hours ago)

Watch out for korean!!!

Most korean naturally have psychoneurosis.

Their genes held heavy hysteria.

crhmaniac (10 hours ago)

b*tch asians will NEVER f*cking take over the world you small d*cked rice cooking ch*nk piece of shit. WHITE people run America and the world get used to it f*ggot. all ch*nks, g**ks and j*ps are good for is working in factories for 10 cents a day qu**r. and as for your honda, it sounds like a 4 speed blender you wide eyed fucking c*ck s*cker.

SatanicSlaughter616 (14 hours ago)


masabsn (14 hours ago)

You f**king Korean....All of the Koreans don't care about others. They just care about their moneys. Even they can't speak English after living this country for 18-30 years. They always hire illegal immigrants and use them as a slave. Now they start shooting Americans. I am angry about this.

Derekdraken (16 hours ago)

Also in the U.S. Forces base in South Korea,

Koreans have caused the rape trouble to an American woman.

Koreans are sick."

How very lovely. Is that all? Please, we haven't even started. Let's take a look at what Bino Rino had to say

"You can blame bullying, harassment, drugs, alcohol, narcissism or anything else but it all comes down to one kid with one choice to make. The little f**king g**k that shot up Virginia tech can go s*ck a fat c**k."

So far, all comments on that individual's post have been positive. What has been truly sickening has been just how easy this kind of commentary has been to find and guess what? The people who get targeted for it, sooner or later, get tired of it. Without disputing what would seem to be obvious (that Cho came completely unhinged) - do you think that he might have had a little help going as insane as he was in the end? I might also say something about the way in the very suggestion that there be any sort of limitation on immigration or that the distinctiveness of Western cultures ought to be preserved would be responded to with hysterical outbursts of politically correct rage and calls for censorship and blacklisting in one decade, yet garbage like this is considered acceptable in the next. But then, were Cho an African-American instead of a Korean immigrant, would the casual racial generalizations be accepted even today?

Probably not, judging from what just happened to Imus. Even the faintest hint that one has engaged in that kind of racism, no matter how unjustified by the facts, still brings on howls of outrage, so why the double standard? Here's a thought - how about because the old racism never went away, it just went underground, and when you take a look at the minorities whose bashing is currently politically correct, like, say, Middle Easterners, as we saw in an ePlaya post that I made an earlier reference to on my homelist, a pattern most definitely begins to emerge. Looking at the frequently and openly maligned Jews, and South and East Asians among others, one finds visibly non-Anglo-Saxon peoples who've often had the bad taste to outachieve their fairer skinned so-called "betters", held onto their traditions and managed to live well, even during those all too frequent times when courtesy of real discrimination, they've had to learn to live with less. They have, in short, not minded their places at all, and some of our "progressive" friends aren't prepared to accept that. They look at some of those coming out of places like Englewood, broken in body and spirit or addicted to playing the fool, in either case not looking like prospective competitors who might get in the way of the ambitions of those who wish to advance without having to work or learn anything, and ask so many others "why can't you be more like them".

Perhaps because some of us remember that dignity comes from within, and that the true disgrace that comes from abuse lies on the abuser, not on the abused. I didn't know Mr.Cho, and under the circumstances feel fortunate in this regard, so I don't really know how much of this applies to his case, but can't help but wonder when I see some of the comments about his case.

If anybody is pushed hard enough and long enough, he will push back. Everybody has a breaking point, and it is the shame of a supposedly civilised society that so many of its supposedly civilised members will work so hard to find that point, and then posture as victims when they find it, but - take a look at what follows. Looking at the body count and taking the short time available to a shooter before the police arrive should be enough to squash any theory that the shooter in such a case is giving his targets their just desserts or anything like them, that the people he is taking out are his tormenters. We heard that suggestion after Columbine and now we're hearing it again, and to give that one a reality check - every try finding somebody on a college campus who wasn't hiding from you? Know that "needle in a haystack" feeling as you try to find a lab partner or a friend? What are the odds that Cho would have been able to track down a few dozen of those who mistreated him in rapid succession?

Answer: Approximately nil. The tormented shooter in such a case does not dispense social justice, he cuts down innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time; heroic innocent people, as in the case of that professor who died holding the door shut while he helped his students to escape. The actual tormenters in such a case will most likely be off shopping for toilet paper or something at the time, and survive to give gripping firsthand accounts of ordeals they weren't present for themselves, and in all of the confusion, we'll probably never know who they were, especially given the reality that so many of the prospective witnesses are hostile that their testimony would have to be regarded as being tainted by any reasonable person. In his reaping of the innocent, Cho ensured that justice was the one thing that would never be seen and, of course, he ended up dead - a lose-lose proposition for all but those who deserved to lose, assuming that there were any of those and that we're not just hearing stories created after the fact by those who want to be sensitive. A few decades into the Political Correctness era, with respect for the truth on college campuses at a historic low, one can't reasonably discount that as a possibility.

But let's say that it's true. Cho is dead and gone and has taken his victims with him, and we can't fix that, but we can intervene in cases in which somebody seems to be starting down the road he took off a cliff, and we can do it with greater wisdom than that seen in such quasi-fascistic suggestions that he should have been involuntarily committed because some women found him vaguely creepy or that some instructor got nasty vibes from his writing. (Not that I wouldn't understand why, if the contents of this page are an accurate copy of the script of Cho's play "Richard McBeef"; please read it for yourself and see what you think). That sort of thing is the death of civil liberty and will, ironically, generate much of the very kind of explosive rage that it is offered as a defense against. One intervenes, when one sees somebody else being mistreated, by making it one's business and letting him know that he's not going to be left to fend for himself. "You mean, intervene when a member of an oppressed group is mistreated because of his race or his ..." No. Anybody who is being ganged up on and bullied because of something that in no way negatively reflects on his character is being oppressed and to worry about whether his oppression counts or not, whether the group he is being used as an icon for has seen enough hatred yet for it to qualify as an oppressed group, is to say "let's wait for the explosion and then do something about it". Waiting until there are dead bodies before acting to avert a firefight is not a very conscientious choice or a very prudent one, yet it is one we can count on seeing many people make.

And when we can't get the creeps to behave? Maybe some of the Asian kids at some of these schools ought to go hang out with some of the Jewish kids and compare notes. While I don't know whether or not what I've heard about the treatment seen by Cho was true, let's say that looking back on the experience of being Jewish and noticably non-Anglo-Saxon in appearance in a more rednecked location, I find a lot of what is being described very, very familiar, and if we all acted on every urge we felt, that the herd would be very seriously thinned out at this point. So why didn't we and don't we? Maybe because when the day got to be too much for some of us, we would turn to others for support and could count on getting a needed reminder that the whole world had not, in fact, actually gone insane. I can't help but wonder if Cho ever got that needed reminder, and if in an era in which all complaints of injustice by those not officially recognized as being among the oppressed are dismissed as whining in a fashionably "in your face" manner, if maybe any sign that he needed it was responded to, perversely, with more abuse. By the time he got to Virginia Tech, trying to be the person who gave it to him might have been unwise, but getting to the bad place he ended in is something that didn't happen overnight, and what if there had been somebody there for him before he got to that point? Say, maybe when he was a mildly unhappy middle school student instead of a borderline suicidal undergrad?

But that's the problem, isn't it? Consider the pop wisdom that gets in the way of answering a sensible question - "other people have it worse than you". If physiological health issues were addressed in the same way that so many would have mental health issues dealt with, nobody would ever emerge from a hospital alive, because nobody would be let in until he was already terminal. The folk wisdom on this point is folk idiocy; one does not wait until somebody has been pushed to the edge before speaking up for him or being there for him. To say "others have it worse than you" is to say "what, this is all we get to do to you" and then wonder why an overtly hostile response follows to one's barely covert aggression. One doesn't wait until the one put upon has it worse than everybody else before seeing the need for him to see some support and some justice, because nobody should have it that bad or come close to having it that bad.

If one should insist on feeling otherwise, that is perhaps one's privilege, but then again it is equally well the privilege of the rest of us to not care very much if one should get to snack on a little lead before settling in for a good, long sleep. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that law enforcement should look the other way as violence is inflicted on our more callous neighbors, I will go so far as to say that there are some people who really aren't worth mourning, and that some of them exit this world with clean criminal records and undeservedly good personal reputations. (Note: My thanks to the writers at the Fairbank Report for linking to that script).

Added, April 24,25: Found a link to Cho's other play, Mr.Brownstone.

Note inserted October 22 - the one and only copy that I could find of that play, which every single other source made reference to, has been taken down, and the Internet Archive only had time to archive the cover page of the script: 1. I looked and looked and found nothing, except maybe a fresh reason to look down on CNN - really, guys, you couldn't afford to keep your own copy of a piece of news story documentation? Diskspace costs what - 1/4 of a cent per Meg, but you have to mooch off of some blogger at AOL instead of handling your own file storage?

If I find out about another copy, I'll insert the appropriate link or links in an appendix below, but I'm not optimistic.

More of the same sludge; "Richard McBeef" looks less like an isolated outburst and more like what somebody was in class to create. I'm not at all surprised that his instructors would want to show him the door, under the circumstances. The Fairbanks report has posted some excerpts from a New York Times article about Cho that creates a picture of an individual that almost any sensible person would view with concern, raising the question of what somebody could possibly be thinking about as he went out seeking the attention of this troubled individual by baiting him. Did some of these people not understand the concept of being silent and letting trouble drift past one?