December 2005

Reconsidering blog tools

As the memory of cleaning out hundreds of spammy comment posts is fading, and a large task looms (exporting old blog entries and importing them to a new tool that may suffer the same spam-bait problem, or writing/modding my own spam-resistant custom blog code), I'm reconsidering my plan. I shall try out the new Pivot upgrade.

I've updated now.


There are a few things that seem wrong, like the archives having missed most of what they should include, but it's working and comments should be enabled now.

Return of the Kevin




There was I, patiently setting up a new computer. What was it that made me use Kevin as a screen wallpaper?

I have limited desk space, not really enough for both the old computer and the new one. I have to shuffle keyboards and mice around when I swap between them. I lifted one keyboard up to move it aside, and Surprise! Scuttling occured.

It was Kevin. Kevin had returned. It must have been him. The markings were the same. His April 2004 trip from my work to the tip in a plastic bag was the start of his epic journey. Who knows what obstacles he surmounted, what creatures he outwitted, what hardships he endured? Kevin had triumphed. Now he'd seen the summoning of the Roach-Signal projected on my screen at home, and he'd come.

I took him outside in a glass Roachmobile. Could this be the start of another adventure?

No comment

For a short while, there will be no comments enabled on this journal.

While Pivot (the blog software I've been using) is convenient to use, it has become popular enough to be a target for automated comment spammers. I could upgrade (yet again) to the newest patched version, but I fear that it is only a matter of time until the next exploit is discovered. Let's face it; it will be discovered because there are a lot of Pivot installations. I figure the only way to avoid the spam is to be different enough in underlying code that it's not worth the effort for spammers to automate their hacks.

The Dance at Hruni

Last year the Yule Cat stalked my journal as I explored a story from Iceland's Christmas tradition. This year I'll take another story, The Dance at Hruni, and add my own flourishes to the dance. Here's a quick summary of the story.

The priest at Hruni made a habit of hosting extended merriment on Yule Eve. His old mother, Una, disapproved and urged him to start the church service, but he insisted on "one more round." Una heard someone recite, "Hátt lætur í Hruna,/ hirðar þangað bruna./ Svo skal dansinn duna,/ að drengir megi það muna./ Enn er hún Una,/ og enn er hún Una," which means "Loud noises at Hruni,/ People hurry there./ Let the dance continue,/ so men will that remember./ Still is Una,/ and still is Una." Outside Una saw a stranger and knew that he was the source of the verse and figured he was the devil. She saddled up and went to bring back another priest to save her son. When they returned the church had been swallowed up by the earth and the people inside could be heard wailing underground. (More at The Yule Pages.)

While reading about the extended untoward merriment, a Leonard Cohen song came to mind. (If you're familiar with it, you'll recognise my unashamed borrowing of rhythm and form. If not, then let me encourage you to listen to Leonard. You've been missing out.) Here's my interpretation of the Dance at Hruni:

Oh! at Hruni's church they're chanting
But it's cheers all prayers supplanting,
With the "holy" spirit flowing fast and free;
And my son, the priest, is playing
Host to punters while delaying
Yule devotions and evading prods by me.
And I close my eyes to the tragic truth
As I try to warn my wayward youth,
But his congregation forms a conga line,
Singing, "God can wait for one more round;
This wondrous night we're glory-bound.
In our hearts and heads the Babe is crowned
As Heavenly King of the lightly drowned:

Yes, they cut the decks and roll the dice
And they dance together to the edge of vice.
You mark my words, they'll pay the price.
May't please the Lord, I've warned them thrice:

Then I hear a voice rehearsing
And I hope it isn't cursing;
In its rhythmic verse I know I hear my name.
"Still is Una," is the ending
Of an omen or a sending.
There's a stranger standing outside; he's to blame
For the devilish vague and veiled threat,
For the voice of dread, for the shivering sweat
That forced me to attend his telling rhyme.
And within his smile I see the beast.
I saddle, race for the nearest priest
To save the fools from the devil's feast
And free them all (my son at least).

Returned, the flock cannot be found,
Sunk fast beneath their godless ground,
Yet from below, a longing sound:
"Hey Leifur, pour another round!

Breathtaking Inanity

When it comes to well funded delusions, Intelligent Design creationists are really hard to beat. However, Judge John E. Jones has handed out a beating that they'll remember even if they refuse to understand it. Here's a few paragraphs from the judgment:

To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact
that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not
be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in
religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the
Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals,
who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would
time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID
have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor
do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As
stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an
alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an
activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court.
Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction
on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a
constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an
imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the
Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which
has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers
of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal
maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Read more at Pharyngula on the judgment, MSNBC, Pharyngula on the DI's spin, The Loom, Pharyngula on Michael Behe's embarrassing record, The Panda's Thumb.

Amplified humanity

After reading about mobs of collective brutish stupidity in Sydney, this paper stabilized my sinking opinion of humanity.

Now, there's a color key here for puzzles: hard, easy, not so hard, etc. [Pointing to different colors] These were the puzzles that would take a day, these were puzzles that would take a week, and these puzzles they'd probably never figure out until we broke down and gave them the answers. So we built a three month schedule around this. And finally we released. [Pause] The Cloudmakers solved all of these puzzles on the first day.

People cooperating in groups amplify the best and worst of humanity. If only we could work out how to limit the amplifier gain on intolerance.

My Favorite Marsupial

Don't mistake that sleepy expression for laziness. He's probably been up all night.

"With absolute precision, details of the wombat's sex life were recorded and, surprisingly, it seemed anything but modest," he says.

"It appeared to be a physically demanding process, complete with chasing, biting, grunting and loads of heavy breathing."


Mr Marks says he hopes his study will solve the sloth-like image problem of the common wombat, making the furry marsupials "the symbol of Australian male sexual virility".

Secret sex life of wombats.


OEDILF is effectively off the air for the moment. The domain name registration service (that maps our domain name to our host's computer) is down. Some people still have access in some parts of the world, but if our DNS doesn't come back on line soon, then all DNS servers around the world will eventually lose our host's address.

Let's hope they sort the problem out soon. The limerick addicts are getting twitchy.

[9+ hours later]
We're back on-line.

War on Christmas?

I'll give 'em War on Christmas. It's time to subvert a carol.

Joy to the world, the warming comes!
Let winter turn to spring;
To future lives let sense be numb,
And climate chaos bring,
And climate chaos bring,
And climate, climate chaos bring.

Joy to the earth, our ice sheets shrink;
Let men old fuels employ
In guzzling tanks that drive to drink,
Replete with big-toy joy,
Replete with big-toy joy,
Replete, replete with big-toy joy.

No more let nerds and boffins crow,
Nor greens our gains constrain;
These dreary dorks don't have the dough
To push a press campaign,
To push a press campaign,
To push, to push a press campaign.

We rule the world with graft and guile;
All problems we deny;
And by the time we go to trial
Your whistleblower's shy;
No doubt you wonder why;
You see, our corporation's rules apply.