March 2006

Blogged down

I haven't written much verse over the last few months--just a few snarky entries for PhaWRONGula and a few limericks and DDs on the fly in chats. I'm not feeling completely uninspired; it's just that my inspiration and available time+energy are cycling out of phase.

This evening I felt like writing something ridiculous, something so extreme that no sensible person would believe it. But then I read this article and decided not to.

Ernest Unsubtle

Meet Ernest Unsubtle. Ernest never could get the hang of that metaphor thing. He fixes lyrics so that they make more sense.

[house lights dim; spotlight on; curtain parts; Ernest Unsubtle bows]

A big hello to all you orthomyxoviridae out there! Have we got a clichéd show for you tonight!

[Ernest struts to the front of stage and signals the band with slow finger clicks]
[minor descending bassline riff starts; brush snare adds a lazy swing]

Never knew how much you need me
Never knew how much you cared
When you link your genes around mine
I get a feeling that's so hard to bear

You give me fever
When you fill me
Fever when you hold me tight
In the morning
Fever all through the night

Ev'rybody's got the fever
That is something you all know
Fever isn't such a new thing
Fever started long ago

Sinuses swell in the day time
Lungs swell up in the night
My eyes swell up when you drag me down
And I don't know how to treat you right

You give me fever
When you fill me
Fever when you hold me tight
In the morning
Fever all through the night

Romeo gave you to Juliet
Juliet--she felt the same
When he put his arms around her
She said "Not tonight, I feeleth lame
Thou art so hot when we kisseth
Pray do not mistake my moans
Fever! I'm afire
Aching to the core of my bones"

Now you've listened to my story
Here's the point that I have to make
You find ways to give me fever
With every damn transcription mistake

Fever ain't all that you give me
Nausea makes my stomach churn
But fever!
Makes me sizzle
What a hellish way to burn
What a hellish way to burn
What a hellish way to burn

(Apologies to John Davenport and Eddie Cooley)

A New Broom

I checked Pivot's support forums to see if there was any way to clean out large numbers of spam comments. As expected, someone else had raised the question. The answer was "manually." Well, I'm sorry, but deleting several hundred spam comments with at least three clicks per deletion is not a task I want to do manually.

So I did what any decent programmer would do and wrote myself a quick and dirty application to search and delete all the comments in a specified range. While I was at it, I added a function for disabling comments on old posts. (And when I eventually get around to migrating my blog to different blog software, I'll use the same code for exporting.)

I'll do what I can to minimize spam comments, but I don't dread them now, because the clean-up is quick and easy.

Tedious script-kiddies

The relentless script-kiddies are at it again. Pivot (the weblogging tool I'm using for this) is too vulnerable to attack and has no easy facilities for clearing out bulk comments once they've gotten past the (not so effective) spammer shields.

I'll disable comments while I consider my options.

Tentatively re-enabled.

Presumption of guilt?

The US "war" on terror and erosion of freedom is fascinating to watch.

They both learned the same astounding piece of information about the little things that can set the threat sensors to beeping and blinking.

They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.

While I grudgingly accept the inevitability of surveillance systems for security, the presumption of guilt by America's Homeland Security should be ringing alarm bells everywhere. Why the money freeze? Is it to stop potential terrorists from purchasing JCPenney's new range of multi-pocketed suicide bomber apparel?

New Cyborg Toys

"They're mindless monsters. They're killing machines. Controlling their movements is a good thing."

"Just giving them directions every now and then is better than killing them and eating them."

"They're just automatons. Really. They don't really have brains like us. Just bunches of interconnected nerves."

"We're not really even controlling them. Just encouraging them to go where we want them to."

"Hey, nobody complains when we put a bit in a horse's mouth and make it go where we want it to."

"Animals don't matter because they don't have souls."

"We're doing it to save American lives."

I wonder what the rationalizations would be if this project were officially exposed to the public. When you take a shark, fit it with a camera, control its brain by remote control, and plan in the future to be able to monitor its senses, you're creating a cyborg. You've made the ethical decision to re-engineer an animal and take control of its actions. All that remains is to think up justifications and sound bites for the PR campaign.

Do sharks feel pain or frustration? If so, how much pain would be acceptable? Does the defense department even have an ethics department?

And what about animal spies? How long before we have wired-up gulls for aerial surveillance? I don't fear the coming of ubiquitous surveillance, whether it be by animal-based cyborgs or a multiplicity of stationary hidden cameras. Why? Because I figure it's inevitable. The best we can do is try to limit its abuse. Given the way the US government is currently respecting the privacy of its citizens (i.e. happy to throw away the constitution by claiming they are at "war"), there is little chance of any future privacy. Maybe honesty and sanity will hold out a little longer here in Australia. Still, it's only a matter of time. We'll learn to live with it, just as we've come to live with the hidden security cameras in shops.

I blogged too soon. It is public and they have ethical approval (details not stated).