May 1, 2000 (Monday)
In a logical world, poor people with bad credit or no credit rating would be offered loans at reduced rates to enable and empower them, to allow them to purchase the necessities and amenities that the better-off take for granted. They would be encouraged and helped to get through the bad times, and not penalized for being slow to pay. In the real world, however it's a different story.
In the real world, poor people with bad or no credit either can't get loans to buy things they can't afford to pay for all at once, or they can get them at a very high interest rate. Alternately, they can rent-to-own a lot of things from these RTO places and pay up to six times what an item is worth. Even AOL exacts a "poor tax" for those subscribers who don't have credit cards. If you have the fee automatically deducted from your checking account, there's a five dollar surcharge. In a logical world, this would not be the case. But, in a logical world, men would ride sidesaddle.
May 2, 2000 (Tuesday)
Are you being spied on?
Do you use GoZilla to download files? CuteFTP to transfer files to and from you web page? Network Assistant? Notepads+? If so, there is a program lurking on your computer that you may not know about. It sends information about you and your computer to an advertising company named Aureate. Do a find for the file Advert.dll -- if you find it, you are being spied on. For more information go to http://grc.com/optout.htm -- this site is run by Steve Gibson of Gibson Research, a long time computer guru. There are over 300 programs out there, several of which you may have downloaded that may be spying on you. This web page has a list, and much more information than I have space to put here.
Be careful out there. There are unscrupulous and underhanded people trying to infiltrate your personal information at every turn. Educate yourself, get the tools, and fight back.
May 3, 2000 (Wednesday)
May 4, 2000 (Thursday)
New virus on the block -- the Love Bug, the ILOVEYOU worm. Usually I hear about these virii, vermiform program code or Attic equine applications and never see them. The Happy 99, I got infected with, but managed to weed it out pretty quickly. The Melissa virus (worm) bypassed me. This new one -- first thing this morning! I got a love letter from a system engineer. I knew right away something was askew. I called him up and told him, "I don't care how much you love me, I ain't opening this attachment."
The server apparently got infected. All my web page graphics were renamed to name.jpg.vbs -- !!! I checked and all the graphics on the server were apparently affected. Credit to the engineers. They came out and got the situation fixed post haste.
Cinco de Mayo 2000 (Friday)
Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers beat my Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The game was the third longest in NHL history. It went to 12:01 of the fifth overtime period. The game lasted over seven hours. Last time I saw anything like it was in 1996 in the playoffs, Pittsburgh vs. Washington, which ended with 45 seconds to go in the fourth overtime. Awesome games.
"Bad luck woman"
May 6, 2000 (Saturday)
No Entry Today
May 7, 2000 (Sunday)
Everyone is traipsing around the world looking for the culprit in this ILOVEYOU bug affair. Some say it's a 17 year old in Manila, others a 23 year old in Germany. Well, folks, the real culprit in this episode is in Redmond, Washington. It's (shock! shock!) Microsoft. There should be no way that a script language should be able to alter registry entries* on a Windows system, especially a "foreign" script file. A solution to this problem would be to build a test into the program that executes .VBS files and if it was not created on the machine that it's running on, it shouldn't be allowed to access or alter system information. Better still, .VBS files should be specific to certain applications, and would not operated as an overall script language. Microsoft had a batch language with DOS, but opted to use a stripped down verion of Visual BASIC as a scripting language for Windows. In doing so, they opened up the system to all sorts of mischief. While it's handy to have interoperability among applicaltions and the operating system, it's not a good idea to allow access to our machines to any psychopath with a little programming knowledge.
*in the source code of the ILOVEYOU virus (worm) are statements like: wscr.RegWrite "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows Scripting Host\ Settings\ Timeout",0,"REG_DWORD". This writes a registry entry setting the timeout for scripts to zero, effectively specifying no time out at all, allowing a script to keep running until it executes regardless of how long it takes.
May 8, 2000 (Monday)
No Entry Today
May 9, 2000 (Tuesday)
"Shape and color No. 3"
May 10, 2000 (Wednesday)
"Shape and color No. 2"
May 11, 2000 (Thursday)
"Color and Shape No. 4"
Since I'm on a roll here (as opposed to being on a biscuit, I'd suppose), here's the last in this series, and ironically, the first.
"Color and Shape No. 1"
May 12, 2000 (Friday)
Every day I start to write something here, and every day I don't. I don't know if it's 'writer's block' or what. It's not that I don't have ideas or thoughts or things to write about. I do. It's just that I don't feel like writing.
Here's something different. The following are a series of three textures that can be used as backgrounds, either as Windows Wallpaper, E-mail stationery or on web pages. They're what I call my "Leather" series. They are repeating patterns, so they'll tile smoothly. To save them for your own use, right click and pick "Save Picture As", or pick "Set as Wallpaper" if you want to use it as wallpaper. Enjoy.
May 13, 2000 (Saturday)
Back on May second, I mentioned Steve Gibson's web page, and his Opt Out for stealth advertising software. The page has undergone a transformation. His information is now more complete and he has posted a letter he wrote to one of these devious advertising companies. Good information for everyone here.
This disturbing trend of targeted advertising is not limited to the Internet, either. Just think how many stores ask who you are, even if you pay cash. They collect information about your purchases and send you advertising in the mail that would appeal to someone who has purchased the things you do. They also print out coupons specifically aimed at your preferences. Kroger and other grocery chains offer "everyday saving" on "items throughout the store" if you use the card they issue. Othewise you pay more for the items. We're paying for the technology used to screw us if we choose not to be "targeted." This is fundamentally wrong. Read Steve Gibson's letter for a more eloquent and specific tirade on this subject.
May 14, 2000 (Sunday)
No Entry Today
May 15, 2000 (Monday)
Well, my Pittsburgh Penguins are out of the running for the Stanley Cup this year, so I guess I'm a Flyers fan for the duration (since they beat my Penguins). New Jersey beat the Flyers 4 to 1 in the first game of the series. Hopefully, John LeClair and crew can turn it around when they play on home ice tomorrow night.
I'm just rambling today. Watch out for falling oddness.
I don't know what I think anymore. Any opinion I express until further notice is only what I think I think.
May 16, 2000 (Tuesday)
"Packet Radio Disintegration"
May 17, 2000 (Wednesday)
Now Steve Case is creating AOL@School, to indoctrinate and brainwash the children of the next generation, to limit their expectations of what the Internet can provide them in the way of resources and recreation. The blurbs on TV, AOL, and in the newspapers, say that it will provide "age-appropriate" content. I wonder if this will be like the "age-appropriate" content the parental control filters on AOL provide now? The permitted sites, especially the politically-oriented ones are conservative, the blocked ones, liberal, or even moderate. Kids can access the RNC site but not the corresponding Democratic one.
Steve Case has already said that he thinks business is in a better position to make public policy decisions than the government or public institutions. This man needs to be stopped. He's Orwell's Big Brother personified. I used to think Bill Gates was the anti-Christ, now I think Case is. The anti-Elvis at the very least.
Anyone familiar with the Zero Tolerance policies adopted by school systems following the shootings at Columbine and other places has undoubtedly heard of atrocities committed in its name; things like third graders being expelled for bringing a plastic knife to school to spread jelly on her crackers for lunch, a first grader suspended for possessing a pair of nail clipper, and so on. Well, the anti-ZT forces are up in arms about a Denton County, Texas middle schooler who was suspended over a halloween story he wrote. At first this sounded to me like another over-reaction anecdote. For some reason, I decided to read more about it, to go to the source.
Here's the Dallas Morning News story, including what the kid wrote. [NOTE: link removed. No longer available.]
It does seem overzealous to have put the boy in jail, but I don't think the incident is as innocuous as the antis would have us believe. Read the story he wrote. It smacks of 'gang culture' and indicates to me a youth in dire need of psychological help. Not only that, but the teacher gave him a 100% for the story. Excuse me? Was this an English class? This teacher should be incarcerated. The total lack of respect for the teacher, the school, his peers, and himself should have warranted a trip to the school psychologist, not an A. The grammar and other egregious errors, that any self-respecting 6th grader should know better than to commit, especially on a paper to be handed it, alone should have dropped the grade to a 'C' at best. But then maybe I'm a hard ass. Maybe we should just give up and hand the country over to the gangs and the illiterates who only speak part of a language.
May 18, 2000 (Thursday)
May 19, 2000 (Friday)
I've been reading a book called The Reality Dysfunction, for months now. For some reason I can't quite stick with it. I've read several other books in the meantime, but I do keep coming back to this one. It's a science fiction novel which features, among other fantastic future developments, biohabitats and bioships which are grown to specifications and have minds and personalities of their own. Habitat managers and ships captains have an empathy with their "partners."
I found this an interesting speculation, until today.
Today I read a small news article about Canadian scientists implanting spider genes into goats. The resulting hybrids then started producing silky strands in their milk that can be used for sutures and other medical applications. The technique was perfected by Jeffrey Turner, a geneticist and president of Nexia Biotechnologies of Quebec. Besides the medical market, Turner said the substance likely has industrial applications -- possibly replacing such things as Kevlar. It also could be used to cover domed stadiums and in the aerospace and communications industries. [source: UPI]
Sounds like we've taken the first step, doesn't it?
May 20, 2000 (Saturday)
I'm taking the weekend off.
May 21, 2000 (Sunday)
About that ten I owe you. . .
May 22, 2000 (Monday)
I put the scan of the Confederate ten dollar bill in yesterday's entry because I think of it as found art/art-that-has-been-modified-with-age. I think things like money, stamps, documents that have withstood the ravages of time and are somewhat tattered take on a fresh function as art. As things get old and worn they take on an aesthetic property that wasn't there in their salad days (I say this as I approach the end of my entree).
Notice that the bill is individually signed and the serial number is handwritten. The date is stamped in red with presumably a rubber or wooden stamp. Today, there is too much money to have this individual attention paid to it. . . and less art for future generations.
About a hundred years ago or so, when checking accounts were a new thing, pretty much reserved for business use, the government used to charge a tax on each check written, and caused to be affixed to the checks something called "documentary stamps." I don't know the entire history of these devices, but I'd be interested to learn if anyone can point me in the right direction
Here is a check with a documentary stamp affixed:
Note that the check is stamped PAID with a rubberstamp. It was also common practice in those days to cut an X in the center of the check (this is pre-scotch tape). The documentary stamp is another indication that the check has been paid. This is an example of belt AND suspenders.
Below is an enlargement of a two cent documentary stamp. I understand that these were used with any legal document, wills, deeds, stock transfers, etc. In the late 1800's a check was a solemn, rare thing and was accorded all the respect as a deed of trust, which, in fact, it was, and still is, if you think about it. Checks have just become so common, so widely used in everyday commerce, that they have become almost the same as currency, which is its own imprimatuer.
Note that the stamp is cancelled by initials and handwritten date.
It's an odd thing. . . Last week, I wanted to scan all kinds of things, but had no scanner. I bought a scanner, and now I can't remember what it was I wanted to scan. So far, I've scanned my son's Prom photo, a Confederate 10 dollar bill, a receipt to print a copy of, and the following flora:
Can anyone tell me what this is? It grows on a big bush, somewhat like a lilac bush, but the long branches bend down, heavily laden with hundreds if not thousands of these little clusters of flowers on each branch. It's really fragrant. The scent is much like a rose. My neighbor, whose yard it's in, has no idea what it is.
May 23, 2000 (Tuesday)
My "Cash 'n Carry" Mail Art Project ends today. I've gotten quite a nice selection of art from all over the world for it. I'll scan some of the better one (the ones that will fit on the scanner anyway) and put them up here in my mail art page. I might even include one or two here in my diary, too. Look for that sometime after the beginning of the month.
I'd like to apologize to all participants for not getting documentation out to them before now. I'll have that taken care of by the first of the month, too. I'll announce the particulars of the exhibit when plans have been finalized.
There are so many things I don't understand. It would fill volumes. One thing is the ready acceptance by the public of tags on the outside of clothing. I guess it's some sort of status thing. Personally, I don't want to be a walking billboard for Nike or Adidas, or even Russell Athletic.
Another thing I don't understand (Local Issue Alert!) is why the mayor and city council of Charleston had to rename Broad Street. Leon Sullivan Way, as it's now called, was fine the way it was. Broad Street has a long and venerable history as a name for a street, and has been the name of that street for a very long time. I'm pleased that the city wanted to honor Dr. Sullivan, but why not take something that doesn't have a name and affix his appellation to it? Something like a numbered street or a bridge maybe? We have at least ten bridges without names. Why not a bridge? What's wrong with the Leon Sullivan South Side Bridge? Seventh Avenue could just as easily be Leon Sullivan Boulevard. To me a street called a "Way" suggests a sleepy little tree-lined, perhaps twisty street (like Vedado Way in Atlanta). Broad Street is a wide, middle of town, busy street. It's not a Way.
This brings up another item: the corporate naming of everything. Used to be we had "The Sugar Bowl" and the "Cotton Bowl" and so on. Now it's "The Nokia Sugar Bowl," ad nauseum. Every athletic field is now adorned with some corporation's name. Candlestick park is now 3Com park. Watt Powell Park here in Charleston is about to have it's name auctioned off to the highest bidder. Every venue, every event, every concept seems to have to have corporate sponsorship to survive. All this should be a red flag that the economy has become so skewed and people have gotten so greedy that collapse is inevitable. We're a country of nothing but advertising. It makes me sick.
May 24, 2000 (Wednesday)
A big nasty storm went through a while ago. Lots of wind and rain and lightning. It went tornadic in the next county over. Late spring and early summer brings us lots of strong weather. I enjoy the power and fury of nature.
May 25, 2000 (Thursday)
May 26, 2000 (Friday)
"So far, the Internet seems to be largely amplifying the worst features of television's preoccupation with sex and violence, semi-literate chatter, shortened attention spans, and near-total subservience to commercial marketing," -- James Billington, Librarian of Congress
I wonder what this means? I got two fortune cookies in the same wrapper.
May 27, 2000 (Saturday)
Back on May 7, all of 20 days ago, I wrote a short indictment of Microsoft as the culprit in the LOVE BUG fiasco. Seems I'm not alone. Phil Agre, of the Red Rock Eater Newsletter out of UCLA said:
So what on earth is Microsoft doing allowing attachments to run code
in a full-blown scripting language that can, among many other things,
invisibly send e-mail? Says the "Microsoft representative",
We include scripting technologies because our
customers ask us to put them there, and they
allow the development of business-critical
productivity applications that millions of
our customers use.
There needs to be a moratorium on expressions such as "customers ask
us to". Does that mean all of the customers? Or just some of them?
Notice the some/all ambiguity that is another core technology of
public relations. Do these "customers" really specifically ask for
fully general scripts that attachments can execute, or do they only
ask for certain features that can be implemented in many ways, some
of which involve attachments that execute scripts? Do the customers
who supposedly ask for these crazy things understand the consequences
of them? Do they ask for them to be turned on by default, so that
every customer in the world gets the downside of them so that a few
customers can more conveniently get the upside? And notice how the
"Microsoft representative" defocuses the issue again, shifting from
the specific issue of scripts that can be executed by attachments
to the fuzzy concept of "scripting technologies", as if anybody were
suggesting that scripting technologies, as such, in general, were to
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up. It should be shut down.
Red Rock Eater is a good service. If you'd like to subscribe (about 5 issues a week), go to The Red Rock Eater Page and grab some good information. Recent discussions about Internet security and the effect of the Internet on families and relationships have been very good. I recommend this to any thinking individual.
May 28, 2000 (Sunday)
No Entry Today
May 29, 2000 (Monday)
The past few days have been stormy here. I guess we'll all be safer turning off our electronic equipment until the time the power, phone, and cable companies eschew aerial cables altogether. There was some great lightning to take the place of the Internet and TV, though. It rained so hard that at one point I looked in the phone book to see if Noah was listed.
One more thing for today: I've put off altering the shape and content of my web page until after July of this year. I may be switching to a cable modem and purchasing a domain name. Since the ones I'd like (Catch 23 and Artcetera) are already taken, I need to come up with a new one that is available. Any suggestions will be given my fullest consideration. You can leave suggestions in the comments/guestbook or E-mail them to me. You can check to see if a particular domain name is available by clicking HERE. Maybe more later. . .
May 30, 2000 (Tuesday)
Busy lately, not accomplishing much, though.
May 31, 2000 (Wednesday)
Tomorrow is June. Another month and the first one with a 2 at the beginning will be half over. It hardly seems possible. Only five months ago we were all worrying about the Y2K bug and waiting for the end of the world. The time of Fin de siècle is over, and already I'm feeling a little nostalgic.