October 16th, 2003


Blanket of Nature

An impression -- wounded earth, healing. Abandoned buildings,vine-covered, moss and fern, droopy things. The slow transitionto something else. We only rarely see art imitate life on that count.Network cables, hardware, the chaos of transition mocked. Organic-looknetworking. We fear .. no, that's not right. We can't deal with suchchaos, although we're doomed to always have a longing for it. Orderand Chaos, our two lovers.. we try for order, it's been good to us,and we can see the pain in its eyes when it sees that we can't fullygive our heart to it, even if we are faithful in deed, and while we'reaware of this, we feel a crushing guilt... I flirt with Chaos, and wouldmore, if I had the time.

So, there's another spider, this one very rude, slurping on my sitewhile pretending to be an ordinary user. You can tell they're beingjerks when they pretend to be (rotating):Netscape 4.77/LinuxMSIE 4.0/Win95MSIE 5.5/Win98MSIE 6/NT5

Umm, yeah, thanks for not even looking at my robots.txt, not mentioningyou're a bot, and slurping my page very methodically. Whois says you're"Web Content International". You just got iptables-ed out of communicationwith my systems. I don't mind Google getting my pages -- their bot ispolite, doesn't grab at an insane rate that makes me wonder what's goingon while I'm logged onto the box, and their IPs resolve, so when I go throughthe trouble to figure out who they are, I don't need to use 'whois'. Othersearch engines (which I don't care much about) are mostly ok unless they'reeither sinister, or if they grab fast enough that I I feel compelled to find outwho they are.

Today's midterm went pretty well -- it was much easier than I expected.Of course, the really tricky thing is how I did on the take-home portion..I was up until about 3:30 last night working on it, and woke up earlytoday to finish it up and study for the midterm. I think my body is unhappywith me about that -- now that I'm done with classes, I'm not feeling too well.I think it's just that I'm really sleepy -- the thought of lying downsomewhere soft and sleeping is very attractive to me. I might do that, orI might do some tea or food and be social somewhere first. Or perhaps I'llcatch up on some work stuff. Today and yesterday I've been doing a bit lessin preperation for the midterm related stuff that's mostly done, for now.

Oh, PUSH turned out well again last night -- we keep getting new people.Huzzah!

Also, China just finished a manned space trip. Cool.

I need to shut my laptop down sometime to get all the cat fur out of it..I don't know how, but wally has some kind of secret fur-injection techniqueto mess up my system. Self-reminder for tomorrow -- get a haircut.


Taste test

So, the results of the taste test -- the ice tea turned out with a betterflavour than the sun tea, using the same teabags and approximatelyequivilent amounts of sugar. They're both too sugary for me though, andif I can get a tea that's less naturally bitter, next time I try withconsiderably less sugar. Over the years, my taste for sugar has gone waydown...

So, I'm sure, dear audience, that you're wondering what kind of philosophicalthoughts I've been chewing on recently. Well, classwork and actually takinga philosophy class at CMU have been keeping me busier than I've ever been inmy life before, but I still do have thoughts unrelated to that stuff.A few days ago, I had another conversation with someone I occasionally talkto, with rather different views than me, and it gave me a bit more churning ona topic I've already been thinking about a lot recently.. it's kind of twotopics, actually. Some years ago, I gave a speech called"The Limits of Tolerance", exploring the concept of personal and societaltolerance. The speech was basically there to illustrate there are actuallyserious issues with the notion of tolerance -- it's not just a yes/no thing,nor something we should jump behind universally. However, due to theaudience I gave it to, and also due to my lack of a form position on how itshould be worked out, I refrained from drawing any conclusions on the topic.I've been continuing to think among those lines, and based on some things Iwas compelled to flesh out in the discussion, I realize that maybe I am readyto say something publically on it. As a related, and perhaps essentiallythe same, task, I'd like to try to lay out the basics of what a liberal societyof the type I would like looks like. This is basically in response to somediscussion at the last PUSH meeting that there exists at least an illusion ofa common goal for the U.S. among evangelicals here, and with their strongability to extract wealth from their followers, and their strong representationat the polls because they care more, they have disproportionate political powerto their numbers. Is their consensus built on illusion? It was suggested thatthe liberals might have a thornier problem -- there are multiple, seperate,strong visions, and it's pretty clear that there's a lot of disagreement.

I've really been enjoying making spaghetti in my ricemaker. Some good cheesemixed in, some spaghetti sauce, and it makes for a very inexpensive and tastyway to eat that requires very little attention to make (very important for me).

My new Hedwig CD, "Wig in a Box", came in, almost a week before its releasedate. The interpretations are indeed interesting, and I like the new songstoo. Some of them are markedly worse than the originals (gnosis version ofwicked little town), and some are markedly better (the long grift)..

Verisign's bringing sitefinder back, after some very carefully done and fundedstudies designed to make it look like a good thing. Fortunately, there arenow a lot of us prepared to strike back. Firstly, there are now stable, workingpatches to BIND that people in the know will be able to install in theirworkplaces and elsewhere, that will disable sitefinder. Secondly, the stageis set for a massive denial-of-service attack on their site. Finally, there aresigns that owners of certain powerful networks (and some standards bodies) mightsimply pull the plug on Verisign. Verisign won't get away with this, and itdoesn't fricking matter that they've managed to gain control over 'legitimate'means for control over the net (which, considering their feud with ICANN overthis issue, is actually questionable in itself) -- techies all know what they'redoing is wrong, and we won't stand for it. They'll lose. Like SCO. Yeah, wedon't care if you think you should be safe because you're doing bad things butare playing by 'the rules'. Do bad things, and good people will fight you, andcollectively, we can play much dirtier tricks than you can. On the sametopic, the spammers are trying to rally against the recent legislation tostrike at spam. Sorry, you lose too. Piss off millions of people, and it doesn'tmatter who you can buy in congress, you're going to have an unpleasant life.Oh no, I hear you cry! Vigilantism, you cry! Society shall fall into chaos!That's bullshit. What we see, ladies and gentlemen, is a society, a legalsystem, that has been bought by donations by big business. Corporations aspeople, protected commercial speech, intellectual property, anti-environmentalstuff in NAFTA, media consolidation, all crap that has been paid for bybusiness. Do you just sit back and allow that to continue? Do you sit there,the fool, simply obeying the rules they write? Do you think you can do squatagainst million-dollar contributions by writing a letter to yourcongressperson? By all means, write the letter, but don't stop there. Entities that are made of wealth, that seek little but more wealth, arethe borg of modern society, and they need to be kept away from things theymight infect. Like a campfire, you can't let it expand out of its circle.I'm not trying to put out the fire -- I don't think that's necessary, butsimply defining as good everything that's on fire, and living out apyromaniac's dream, chanting "market! fire! market! fire!" is not somethingwe can permit.

The bernstein crypto case is dismissed. Woot!

Someone wrote a long, interesting paper on maintaining freedom in the face ofcapitalistic forces. Reminds me of RMS's thoughts on the same issue.

I'll no doubt write more about this later, but there was asymbolic accord signed between left-wing palestinians and left-wing israelis recently.

This has some amazing aplications. The guy at the end scares me though...Like some people froth at the mouth at the idea of exploiting people to getmore money, the military always seems to have its eyes on new ways to killpeople. I guess it's their job, but it does disturb me..

How about something a bit lighter.. something funny? :)

I am happy that, for now, the immediate pressures of life are off a bit.. withinthe next few weeks I do have two papers to write, but I can work on that at aless hectic pace than this week has been..

My wireless router has been acting up.. I moved it to its own UPS that itshares with just a clock.. hopefully that'll help make it happy. It'sirritating to need to reset it all the time.

Well, that's all, for now. I'm hankerin' for some spaghetti.. hehe.