Dose of Reality

Even though I am getting fewer Pakistani mortgage offers, my anti-spam hobby will probably need to give way to a new video game. A veteran speaks out in the name of futility:

THIS IS NOT A HOBBY. If you want to be an anti-spam advocate, if you want to write software or maintain a list or provide a service that identifies spam or blocks spam or targets spam in any way, you will be attacked. You will be attacked by professionals who have more money than you, more resources than you, better programmers than you, and no scruples at all. They want to make money, this is how they have decided to make money, they really can make a lot of money, and you’re getting in their way.

It’s a full-time job, and everyone will hate you, and it still won’t work. Spammers are smart and determined, and people are numerous and stupid, and spam pays. You can’t make it not pay. Going after their ISPs won’t help; they’ll auto-register somewhere else. (Already happening.) Going after their upstream provider won’t help; they’ll cut deals with the backbone providers and keep going. (Already happening.) Going after them in court won’t help; they’re already living under friendly governments. (Already happening.) You can’t stop them with Turing tests; they’ll hire child workers to read your images and manually register/post/ping/trackback/whatever. (Already happening.) Then they’ll attack you with the power of 100 million owned Windows boxes and knock you off the Internet. (Already happening.) They will keep coming and coming and coming until you give up, go home, cry uncle, take Prozac, get a regular day job to replace the one you quit when being an anti-spammer became your full-time job.

Mark Pilgrim’s cheerful missive was provoked by the current rash of blog spam: spam left in the comments of blogs, spam inserted into server referrer logs, entire blogs getting cloned and used to boost the google rank of porn sites in Bucharest.

So what’s to be done? How is it possible to continue an open dialogue, a worldwide conversation with low barriers of entry, and not get buried in porn and credit card offers bounced out of an array of third world spam sweatshops?

Or, put another way, how is it possible to defeat international organized crime, outmaneuver the best and most well-paid programmers, and eliminate a clear and powerful profit motive?

Oh well.
Blogs kinda sucked anyway.

Warrior

Crawling out from a SimCity binge (fortunately it was version 3 — version 4 might have put me under for the Winter…) and looking for another expression of digital monomania, I started hunting spammers.

Not the spam sent to the addresses I posted to the web, put up in clear text back in the old utopian days before mailto was equivalent to bullseye. Those poor things are incurable. Wrap ’em in filters and stick ’em in the basement.

But for my proper-name email address, sold by some… affilliate, complete with physical mailing address — this one i’ve taken to patrolling like a remote shack in Montana. Whois on the weblinks, AIRN lookup on the IP, find the upstream owners of the block. Pointless. So pointless. But actively pointless. And, like holding back the tide with a broom, it actually works for a few seconds.

It’s also very educational. Who knew so many American mortgage companies were actually based in Pakistan and China?

Crazy Deficit Spending

Schwarzenegger Campaign Ad:

Now, here is my plan: audit everything, open the books, and then we end the crazy deficit spending.

A week before Schwarzenegger’s inauguration [LA Times]:

Massive Loan for State Weighed
Aides for Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger float the idea of borrowing $20 billion to balance the budget as key players reverse fiscal stances.

SACRAMENTO — As Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger prepares to take office, his aides are testing the waters for a possible budget solution that would include having the state go into debt to pay off a substantial portion of the coming year’s deficit.

No more funny.
Pain hurt in head.

Burning Down the House

The citizens of San Diego stuck to their anti-tax guns even while those damned liberal fire fighters spent decades warning them of massive impending brush fires

Officials often ignored warnings on San Diego fire danger

SAN DIEGO – Fire officials told local leaders for years that a lack of firefighters combined with dry brush and hot winds could result in massive wildfires like the ones that raged in recent weeks – but the warnings were often ignored, it was reported Saturday.

Fire officials also predicted they would be unable to stop even small brush fires because they lacked resources, according to a review of San Diego city and county records by the Los Angeles Times.

Voters, however, rejected referendums to beef up fire protection with increased taxes.

Determined not to make the same mistake again now that so many homes and lives have been lost, so many billions wasted on a disaster that was clearly foreseen and so easily prevented, the new Schwarzenegger administration has decided to boldly… cut taxes going towards local firefighters and police agencies.

In an upcoming bold move, Arnold’s team confirms that 2 minus 2 minus 2 still not quite equal to 4.

Mind Power

Over the last few months of non-blogging, one post has continued to gather comments — this post from July about a craig’s list want ad for someone with telepathic powers.

So far about six or seven desperate seekers have left comments asking for assistance in developing their hidden powers. And several masters of the mental arts (such as Paladeus and konosawa, grandson of kunaba) have offered their advice and encouragement. The original ad was offering $75 an hour to move small objects, so I suppose I can understand the motivation of the would-be telepaths.

But reading this impromptu telepathic help group has clarified how I’m unfit for the calling of supervillan — I simply cannot take this ball and run with it. And as far as opportunities for evil manipulation go, this is as soft a pitch as they come. As I read over the comments, saying to myself “oh dear,” I imagine the real supervillans laughing in cruel mockery at my pansy weakness, my inability to exploit the desperate and gullible.

In short, I have come to the conclusion that I am just really not ever going to make it onto the board of Halliburton. Oh well.

As for all y’all seeking to unlock the secrets of consciousness, matter, and energy, I’d suggest drinking lots of juice, avoiding artificial electromagnetic fields, and keep plugging away for another decade or so. The Singularity’s a-comin’….

Revision

Among the reasons I started writing in this medium was so I could have some forum to vent my rage and confusion, particularly in the wake of a “preemptive” American war. It gave me some way to argue with the fools and vampires who howled in favor of an occupation, who chanted in blind obedience or wallowed in tortured belief of the occupier of the White House.

This purpose no longer seems valid. There’s no longer anyone I can even pretend that I’m arguing with. I can’t find an intelligent blogger who is willing or able to address the sickening circus that’s been happening for the last few months from a pro-war/pro-Bush perspective.

The lies are unquestionable. Even corporate media is mentioning unmentionable things like the total lack of any threat whatsoever from Iraq and the utter disconnection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. Even Donald Rumsfeld is saying the cheerful pre-war mythology was a pile of bullshit, while still managing to say it’s all a good thing. And no one’s even bothering to come up with flimsy excuses–Bush simply blamed the sailors on the ship he used for his photo op for the content of his photo op. A spy who spent her career searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction is outed by a vengeful administration and right-wing bloodsucking whores suddenly attempt to make an argument in favor of treason. It’s gotten this stupid.

And on the day sixteen Americans were plunged to a flaming death as their helicopter was shot from the sky, conservative bloggers remained silent. Hard hitting war pig Glenn Reynolds spent his time complaining that columnist Maureen Dowd may have used hyperbole, until several other writers repeatedly pointed out his cowardly hypocritical silence. He eventually mumbled something vague about how he doesn’t really write about Iraq

Such flaccid sniveling sputum is not worth gracing with rebuttal, even in this solipsistic sandbox. Not that there isn’t plenty to argue about. But I think I need to address it in some other way, maybe more solipsistic…

For example when the fires were burning outside Lake Arrowhead near where I grew up, and Geraldo Rivera was on Fox News waving his hand at smoldering blackened tree trunks complaining about the tree huggers (quote) who had prevented the clearing of the forest which Bush had been trying to do. “As you can see,” he said “there are just too many trees.”

How to even begin? How to discuss the bark beetle infestation, the lack of funds for clearing the dead trees, the chaparral in the foothills where the fires all started, the state and private land the fires burned through, the imbalance in fire prevention planning and funds for the dry, heavily populated areas of Southern California, and what the FUCK does any of that have to do with allowing logging companies to thin heavily forested federal lands without legal review? Not a goddamn fucking thing, Geraldo. Not a goddamn thing.

However Bush waiting six months before rejecting federal aid to clear dead trees in Southern California, and rejecting it just a few hours before those very trees went up in flames? Well, that seems kinda relevant.

Unfortunately I don’t really feel better pointing it out. Geraldo still somehow manages to defy the laws of nature with a public career, and Republican media corporations continue to remain tightly on message.

So maybe I should be more focused on maintaining my own sanity rather than trying to make some kind of semi-public rational argument. These aren’t really rational times after all…

Doublethink

At his semi-annual pre-vacation press conference, Bush gave an explanation for the bad economy that I least expected to hear:

It’s not a very conducive environment for risk taking when people hear “march to war” all the time.

This is an active political strategy now — to make opponents feel like they can’t not possibly be hearing what they’re hearing. To make blood shoot from the eyes of anyone who pays attention to anything but network TV news.

Dirt

hivelogic

You could feel small things moving, sliding past your fingers beneath the surface. Drawing your hand back for examination, you noted numerous species of insect crawling upon and investigation your hand and arm. Small creatures with pincers on both ends, like vicious centipedes, strode bravely across the length of your palm. Something with spindly legs clambered onto your sleeve. A slug was working its way along your other hand, supporting you in the dirt…

trixie

but then it started raining. i heard thunder first and couldn’t quite believe it, but it wasn’t a far-off airplane. it was a little rain coming. i stayed outside awhile, smelling the wetness & washing the dirt off my skin with the hose. i felt like a kid on the hill in the house where i grew up. always staying outside too late, losing my shoes and getting dirty. and here i am, back in the hills, still in the city where i grew up, still dirty & hanging out with the bugs that scare me & pretending they’re not there.


Voting

I entered the Truth Laid Bear new weblog showcase. Anyone in the ecosystem can vote for zota by linking to this post . And I get to vote for my three favorites:

The S-Train CanvassHaters, the whole lot of you!
This one is amazing: hard talkers, soft lives:

Some of you have been hard talkin’ too much. What I mean by hard talkin’? Saying things like, “I’ll eviscerate a terrorist if I see one”, “You want some of this France”, and the classic “Bring ’em on”. Some of you have never experienced violence up close and personal, live soft lives, yet are the hardest talkers. Let me tell you something: YOU NEED TO HARD WALK A LITTLE.

Oni BloggerWeebl and Bob do hentai
A Doris Mitsch flower scan and the meaning of hentai.
(Turns out the disturbingly recurring tentacle theme is a reference to traditional Japanese images of perl divers — get it? — being attacked by octopi.)

IntellectsStalin
Also a nice post on blogging:

When we think of examining our life, modern people usually think of analyzing their problems, setting goals, and coming up with solutions. To which, I dare say, “A boring life, even examined is still boring.”

Bivariant Correllations do not equal Causality

Chris Lawrence — “a libertarian political scientist wanna-be” — withheld judgement about the Jost study of conservative psychology [discussed here] until actually reading it. Then he declared it a pile of crap, largely on a variety of methodological points. Fair enough.

Relentless decades of the “humanities” have buffed my scant knowledge of social scientific statistics down to a soothingly dull little nub, so I happily defer on these issues to the trained experts, like Lawrence and the American Psychological Association. They’ll have to duke it out with each other over the failure to integrate previous hypotheses and exceptional cases in the meta-survey’s research design. That is what peer review and journal publication are for.

As an exercise, it might also be useful to take some of Lawrence’s objections and set them alongside “well-published political psychologist” John Ray’s extensive work on leftist psychology (particularly his more recent unpublished work, which he tends to cite in most of his arguments). Especially since Lawrence cites Ray as an authority, and Ray cites himself as an authority, and then… well that’s about it. Ray cites himself.

And he has been citing himself up a storm over this “Berkeley” study, I tell you what.

He’s also letting some of his readers get a non-academic word in. One of Ray’s “Midwestern” readers responded by dismissing the Jost meta-study as a nothing but a stacked deck… but then went through the things it claimed to say about conservatives and agreed with almost all of them:

“being intolerant of ambiguity,”

Midwesterners would say “Call a spade a spade…”

“high on the need for closure, “

Midwesterners would say “Shit or get off the pot…”

“might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty,”

Midwesterners actually think these characteristics are IMPORTANT.

Right. So that would mean that this person actually agrees with the study. A study done by people in California?? (Hey, it mighty be best if you don’t spread that fact around in the Midwest… I hear they tend to call a spade a spade out there.)

And to really confuse people, in a post where Ray was accusing liberals of projection, he posted this witty and subtle reposte by another of his readers:

Elite Liberals are beyond being “Mean Spirited” – they are truly evil. Only an evil person would want to tear down a great country like ours – that so many young men and women have died for – just to make big government jobs for themselves.

Now the logic here is like a delicate filigree of rhetorical grace, but try follow it if you can:

  • Liberals say conservatives prefer black-and-white dogma.
  • Liberals are projecting — they are the dogmatic ones.
  • Not only are they wrong, they are Truly Evil.

In a way, it really is genius. How can anyone even respond to that?

At least one thing is certain — man alive, does that John Ray hate Adorno! Who would have thought that the Frankfurt School would still be pissing off the culture industry all the way in to the 21st century? Let’s hear it for the boys!