Monday, February 28, 2005

Spam, spam, spam spam

Spam is huge, inbox-choking, grandmother-annoying, time-strangling problem today, and it will continue to be so. A discussion of spam usually elicits everyone's favourite spam stopping software (whatever that may be). Free from having to view the apparently endless intentional misspellings of penis related pills, they praise their programs with great praise. , but as Andy Lester points out, filtering email based on content will never solve the spam problem. When I said the people who love their antispam software were free of it, I should have said they were freer of it than they were before.

As Andy rightly points out, the problem is not technological - aside from the inherent lack of accountability of most email - but it is philosophical. Imagine, if you will that you only receive ten emails per day. You have no time for spam, so you hire an assistant to screen out all the spam emails before you see them. As luck would have it, the economy has dictated your assistant is a temp - a new person each day. You never know how good they will be with computers, so you have to write out your rules for filtering spam, never knowing if the assistant is smart, or very very, dumb, like people who send chain emails or certain Yale graduates. There is no set of rules that cover all circumstances at a character-by-character level that will work. And computers are no smarter than certain Yale graduates.

The long-term solution is to have better email sending authentication (which by definition would have limited backward compatibility). In the short term, you must use the philosophically weak filters, stopping now and then to sift the wheat from the chaff. Remember if you spend one millisecond considering why you got any particular spam, you've already expended a vast amount of energy exceeding that which it took to create. But today, the problem is akin to trying to stop littering by hiring more garbage men.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Cleveland TV News - all the mythology that's fit to broadcast

Every time I think the local TV news here in Cleveland cannot get more shallow, they manage to take sponges to what bits of moisture remain in the pool . What's missing from this Cleveland channel 5 story on so-called "faith-healing"?
For more than a decade now, a band of healers including a priest, nun and a lay couple come together to pray for the purpose of restoring sick people back to good health, Henry reported. The healings usually take place in catholic churches, but people of all faiths are welcome.
What's missing is a single, solitary, scientific viewpoint. What's this science thing I hear tell of, I can imagine reporter Ted Henry asking...and what has it done for us? Insulin? Antibiotics? Electricity? Bah, nothing compared with faith-healing and inquisitions, I suppose. To counter the utter credulousness of the aforementioned article, you could always look here on the Skeptic's Dictionary by Bob Carroll for more actual information. But information and facts, have nothing to do with the news in this burg.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

NEOhio Bloggers smush local news

This tale I hesitate to say it was told by an idiot, only because I'll begin to sound like a one man local news hating band - is every cliche you can imagine about blogging. Or, as they inexplicably call it "blogging sites". If all you know about blogs came from this story you'd learn that:

1. Blogs are all just used by pedohiles
2. They provide a "roadmap" to your child's heart.
3. Take away the kids's computer and give them a pen and paper
4. Put the computer in the middle of the living room. Not sure how this jibes with point #3.
5. Make sure you still have room to see the tv to get all of your parenting tips from the local news.

It's such a tiresome tale that it just wears me out. I'm glad the blogsphere has people to cut such drivel down to size such as the able Will Kessel at Collision Bend here, Shannon at Bitter Girl here, and George wraps up the coverage here and here with the newsguys's reply, which is, needless to say, "Think of the children!".

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Few repeat customers, secret bloggers

The always informative Avedon has some info that a large percentage of those who gave to Bush in 2000 did not do so in 2004. Personally, I think few people put much thought into who they vote for or donate to - but even with that being said, apparently a lot of them weren't impressed with who they have money two back then.

Last night at the Blogger meetup, we talked about being anonymous bloggers or not...but even the "anonymous" ones are really not, if someone cares to find out who they are. If I had it to do over again I might use a pseudonym...where I work is fairly open minded - the owner of the company gave money to Bush, but some other folks there gave to Kerry and Howard Dean. I can't give a red cent til 2006 when I become a full citizen - until then I just enjoy paying all the same taxes. Leaving this the forum where I let loose my complaints!

The blogger meeting had a wide variety of political stripes, including many bloggers who prefer to remain apolitical, but are fascinating writers on other topics, hence I added a separate "Ohio" blogroll section for them. Some are anonymous, some not. We did cover the idea that blogging about work is dangerous unless you're George and have a company that truly gets blogging. I came out of the closet as a neo-Libertarian, which someone there told me was a new term, as far as they knew. I guess my views are a mix of wanting ovaries to remain rosary free, being far too pro-gun for a Canadian, liking a few conservative writers, but wishing I could have voted for Dean, and failing that, Kerry.

So are people voicing their opinions with cash? Is it safe to do so when any donation can be tracked on the web? The conclusion at the meeting is to just write a blog and let the world sort it out. I've think I influence M_ into blogging now, and at work D_ was interested in starting up his own blog - I referred him to search for his interests, maybe check out blogger and Avedon to start with, as politics is his interest. The more voices, the less silence.

Exclamations!

The Cleveland Fox 8 News Website is, how shall I put this diplomatically, a pathetic river of burning crap. You navigate to it to here and instead of their current top stories, there's a photo of the anchors, which you have to click past to get to the actual site. It's true I often run to their page mostly to remind myself what Dick Goddard looks like, so thank the stars they force everyone to view his visage before viewing any news. The whole site is frames, frames, frames, and when you link to an individual story, it appears alone with no hyperlinks of any kind to the main website.

My personal favourite section is 'Bill's Bytes'. You have to click News then Bill's Bytes to get there, since it is another unlinkable mess. He seems to have a certain fondness for exclamation points:
Really Useful Sites for Really Busy People!

Click here for Really Useful Sites for Really Busy People!

Wristlinx Communicators!

Click here for the Wristlinx Communicators!

Your PC Clock!

Click here to fix your PC Clock for good!

City Creator!

Click here for the City Creator!

Neopets!

Click here for the Neopets!
In 1,050 (half of which are blank) lines, he manages to have 625 exclamation points. If any existed, I would send a violent grammarian and blogger over their to beat them with a Wistlinx communicator, shouting Click here! with audible exclamation points after each hit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Too cheap?

This story on cheap handguns in Ohio is just so misguided. They complain that a type of automatic handgun is too commonly used by criminals. The article highlights again and again that the guns are inexpensive. So the logic here is that if we make gun prices artificially high, only the rich will be able to afford guns. Luckily, the rich are crime-free. Put another way, anyone with limited funds is part of an underclass whose every purchase needs to be scrutinized for being too affordable.

Cleveland Blogger Meetup

Some Cleveland area bloggers met in a coffee house tonight, and it was not the gathering of angry loners that you would expect. George was a key organizer and links to the attendees. Much was discussed, including why would anyone want to write a blog on Cleveland.com, when you can start one for free on your own anyway. The question of is there any money in blogging was asked (no). There's a wide variety out there, and I've seperated some of the Ohio bloggers I link to on the right hand side of of the page.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Won't you please help? aka Short Attention span part 2

With all that's wrong in the world, nothing makes me sadder than the soon-to-be cancelled NHL season. M_ and I will be organizing a food and clothing drive this weekend to help the poor downtrodden NHL owners, having to pay those huge salaries. As for the massive-SUV driving players, I say "are there no workhouses?"

I'm fitfully writing bits and pieces, and trying to find a way to convincingly capture the real voices of people and how they speak, in gritty, realistic, modern tones....one example overheard on a train today...
"I was like, all, and you know, she was like, whatever. You know what I'm sayin'?"

"You can't buy love. Well you can, but not true love. You know what I'm sayin'?"

"Money ain't no big turn on for me. He has money, but I'm like, I don't care. You know what I'm sayin'?"

"I'm not all impressed by that. Some people are, but there's more to life than money. There's other stuff, like. You know what I'm sayin'?"

"Then my aunt was all, like, 'what the fuck!?'. You know what I'm sayin'"
My problem is obvious. I don't know what she's saying.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sentences that make you stop reading a post

Keith Olbermann reacts to a public art installation in New York (because, you know, we were waiting for what he would say):
I might note here that I am as aesthetic as the next guy. My father is an architect and I inherited some of his skills and most of his perception of design and form. I have original art on my walls and a nice kitschy 10-foot tall Mona Lisa in my dining room.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Tips or How I learned to not have an attention span

If you're going to be in a high-speed chase, you should probably not be driving a U-Haul.

If you're the leader of a people, it's ok to treat democractically elected governments as morally equivalent to terror groups that take "credit" for blowing up children..


If you are a reporter for a big-city TV channel, there's no need to investigate claims like acupuncture makes you look younger. Just present all mythologies as though they are facts. Having a single scientific viewpoint expressed would just make you seem like a meanie.

The local (to Cleveland) free papers, which hate each other with the burning hot intensity of a right-wing blogger chiding a left-wing blogger for chiding the government, have some different takes on love as Valentine's Day approaches.

Cleveland Scene covers a Private Investigator who finds evidence of cheating mates. I think we could all ignore his self-serving advice:
"The biggest mistake people make is they confront the cheater with circumstantial evidence," Lewis says. "They should call a professional. We deal with this every day."
If you think your SO is cheating, trust your instincts, unless you think having a manila envelop of photos will help cheer you up in the whole situation.


If you only have 8 minutes to date someone, there are those among us who won't hold up so well. The whole 8 minute speed dating is designed to give you a window into the other's personality in a short time. I was never good at first impressions myself. I was once on a date where:

1. I showed up late, because I didn't realize my date was inside the coffee shop
2. Offered to take her for a walk in a graveyard
3. Took her to a restaurant she hated
4. Took her to a movie she hated

She married me anyway. Happy Valentine's Day, M_.

A final Valentine's Day tip,...Brown-Pleasance Florist in Lakewood, Ohio. They helped the florally impaired such as myself.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lakewood up in Smoke?

Pete Kotz at Cleveland Scene had a nice take on an issue in my city of Lakewood, Ohio. They are considering banning smoking in bars. Kotz highlights the potential economic downside, and that it may be political grandstanding by council members with ambition but not too much sense. There is some debate on the question of scientific studies of second-hand smoke. Some of them concern the workers there, but some focus on the effect on children - and if you are dragging your kids to bars, probably second hand smoke is being eclipsed by other problems. Actually I don't like smoking, and would love smoke-free environments...but I'm loathe to say government should make laws governing private establishments based on my whims.

You're it

We have all witness the familiar, sad, nearly tragic event at some point in our lives. Someone recalls their last days of glory, which occurred decades ago, when they were in high school. It attains an importance in retrospect of those whose lives peaked during the salad days. I propose a metric to measure such tale telling, whereas

(X*(d/365))*t=p

Where is x the telling of an anecdote reflecting, like a cheap carnival mirror, well upon the teller, multiplied by each day it is told (score another day if it is told multiple times in the same day, oh lucky you for hearing it again) times how long ago it was (t) equaling the Pathetic score. Put less oddly, a measure of how little worth their current and future life is, without intent of claiming their old days had any value either. If you have criticisms of the above formula, I refer you to the many research papers documenting that

1. Atlantic Canada is one hour later than Eastern time
2. I watched Letterman all through the eighties, and it started at 1:30 AM
3. Math class was the only place I could catch up on much needed though little-understood-by-science REM sleep.

I had chance to try out my formula whilst taking the train home from work. One fellow was bragging about his not-so-evident-these-days footspeed. Was he bragging about a college track meet? No, farther back. High school sports? No. He was as proud as a parent of an idiot savant piano player’s parent on 60 minutes of his reputed prowess at tag. It would hardly be possible for someone to achieve a higher score, unless they reached farther back into the womb – but that’s a topic for another sort of blog.

Dumb Ideas - a new Cleveland tradition?

Notice anything stirring in the Graveyards of Cleveland in the dead of night? Could it be vampires are on the rise from their earthen and stone tombs? Nothing so nice. The convention center meme is still going strong in the area…it’s an idea just too awful to die, no matter how often we may stake it through it’s unbeating heart. I probably should be polite, but in the face of unwavering stupidity, it's doubtful it would make a difference at this point. The idiots who spend the tax money of residents of Cuyahoga county are now planning where exactly the new convention center should be, or if we should creep up on spending half a billion on renovating the old one. I'm beginning to grow weary of mentioning what a pointless endeavour this is, I've mentioned it before. The short version is that business interests and mind-free public officials want to spend our tax money building a convention center, when as pointed out in the aforelinked article; they are a losing endeavour in the US for the cities that build them. As the always insightful, long-time Cleveland writer Roldo Bartimole points out (link via CPC Weblog) , it not only means we're throwing our bucks into the dead zone, but it's wasting resources we can scarcely afford to...
Can we expect Mayor Jane Campbell, as she seeks reelection, to be responsible and tell the community that it must once again vote for a school issue? Can we expect candidate Frank Jackson to give the schools more than political lip service?

Naw, both of them will play political games. Cleveland residents will be voting in May for a new convention center. Forget the schools.

After all, look at the jobs produced by Gateway. (Laugh now.) How can we pass up another such attraction that produces highly paid jobs? Right, John Ryan. Right, Plain Dealer. Right, Mayor Campbell. Right, Commissioner Hagan.

Gateway’s continued costs predict what building a new convention center will mean from the people who always enjoy sending the bills to someone else. You, the taxpayer.
Perhaps the spending of our dough on worthless projects meme is so terrible, that is must be repeated over and over, til Cleveland stands empty of all people, perhaps with a an etching in stone over the archway to the newest bestest convention center saying "Behold my works, ye mighty, and despair".