Category Archives: Random Ramblings

[BlogEntry] Spam giblets

You know how a string of unrelated nonsense words has become the telltale sign of a spam email? Well, in a blatant rip-off of Spamusement, which I enjoy, I've decided to recycle these wasted bits into prose, in an attempt to make sense of this 21st century flotsam and jetsam.

The following list of words is exactly as it appeared in a spam I received:

libidinous condonechampaign gilead blurrybelief styrene peachskirt sloven uterusinteger cheney tiltinvertible alluvial culbertsongrievous keys bowmandefect oberlin crawfordcommitted slant disciplinaryfang siderite spawnwring limp paraboladietician chili scarletimperceivable

The same list of words, unchanged, appears in bold text.


Martha was feeling libidinous, but she could not condonechampaign. In gilead, she had developed a blurrybelief about the effects of mixing alcohol with styrene. She soberly slid her peachskirt down her hips and into a slovenly heap on the floor. She set about the task of inserting her artificial uterusinteger.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Vice President cheney was performing his triple tiltinvertible for the now overwhelmingly Republican Senate. They had replaced the aisle that they always spoke of "reaching across" with a creek that was too wide to do so. The alluvial sediments were annoying in their shoes, but they preferred it to having to talk to the Democratic Senators. Congested People for Piping had tried to file the culbertsongrievous act in a nationwide referendum, but high-ranking Democrats on the other side of the creek were the keys to passing this important legislation. Senators bowmandefect, oberlin, and crawfordcommitted to put the right slant on this bill, but the disciplinaryfang of VP Cheney concerned them. They had to get their siderite before they tried to bring it across the aisle, er, creek. Everyone watched Senator spawnwring out his socks after an unsuccessful attempt to limp across the gravelly creekbed

In the quadratic lunchroom where only the higher-order Senators ate, the paraboladietician grew concerned for public health as they placed their fifth-order for chili.

Martha was pleased to find the trace of scarletimperceivable after the installation.

[BlogEntry] The good thing about spam…

…is Spamusement. (If you were using Mozilla and TargetAlert, you would know whether that link opens a new window or not.)

Spamusement's kind of like eating broccoli chips. You're not sure what you're eating at first, so you try another one. You can't decide how much you like them, but you're puzzled enough trying to categorize the taste that you keep eating them. Eventually, you've eaten the entire bag, and you feel like puking. Oh, and maybe you laugh, once, between wretches.

This one really tickled me. Sorry, Steven, but I hope you never find a spam filter that works. 😉

[BlogEntry] Are you stingy with your clicks?

The Internet has become such a gift to humanity, but I wonder how aware of this we actually are.

  • My wife got the oil changed in her car, but they put in 10W30 instead of the recommended 5W30. She wanted to know the difference, so she went to Google. How would she have researched this before the web? Go to the library. Try to find a mechanic willing to answer her question.
  • As a developer, I am blown away by the quantity and quality of all the free software out there for the taking. From bottom to top, there is just so much it boggles the mind. Linux, Java, Apache, Tomcat, Eclipse, Spring, Struts, Hibernate, Log4j, JUnit, etc. Look at all the free blogging software! (Thanks, Simon!) As a friend of mine says, we are living in the Golden Age of Software. (It's a GAS, GAS, GAS! <-- That corny part is mine, not his. 🙂
  • Virtually any question that comes up nowadays, I immediately turn to the web, and primarily to Google.

However, I've become aware of the fact that I have been stingy about clicking on links that would benefit the people and sites that make this treasure trove available.

Have you ever avoided buying something on someone's site, because it was through their affiliate link? I have noticed I have a resistance to that.

Do you ignore or avoid Google Ads on peoples' sites? I have.

Now, admittedly, we're all as busy as we can be, writing our own free software or putting our own free information on the web. But it makes sense for us to support all that we benefit from by taking a moment to encourage and reward the effort.

Where would we all be without Google? I rely on Google hundreds of times a week, if not a day. I make use of tutorials and software I find through Google every day of my working life. And while Google is doing quite well in the process, they offer their service to me for free any time I want, as much as I want. When you think about it, that's an unbelievable gift! Sure, they're in it for themselves, but they genuinely enrich my life. (I could go off on a tangent here, singing the praises of capitalism, but I will restrain myself. You're welcome. 🙂

I just went to codehaus.org to download Groovy when I noticed that they have Google Ads on their site. I immediately looked away, as if it has become a reflex to block out all rectangular, revenue-generating portions of a web site — a web site that it giving away a powerful development tool and even the source code for me to use in any way that I please!

This just doesn't make any sense. It costs me virtually nothing to click on a link intended to be relevant to the page I'm on. That click also benefits the owner of the site making something valuable available to me for free. It also benefits Google, and it potentially benefits the advertiser, if I buy what they are selling. And what they are selling may benefit me! Why would it be so automatic for me to ignore or avoid it?

I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to start giving back to the sites that give so much to me. I'm going to be more generous with my clicks, in an effort to say thank you for open-sourcing your hard work, thank you for enriching the world wide web, thank you for your generosity.

The more we reward people and companies for providing what we want, the more they'll offer us. (Another nod to capitalism.) I intend to say thank you with my clicks, in order to enrich my own online world. Care to add your clicks to mine?

If you would like to join me in this resolution, please just remember that it is unfair to overdo it. If people start heedlessly clicking on Google Ads or banner ads, it could hurt the advertisers, which would ultimately hurt the providers such as Google. So please be supportive, not abusive.

Here are some of the many sites or products I benefit from daily that ask nothing of me in return for their service:

At the time of this writing, I have no Google Ads or any other revenue-producing banners on this blog. But I reserve the right to add them. 🙂

[BlogEntry] Looking for a good reason not to win the lottery?

Here's one. From CNN:

...

Whittaker won the largest single jackpot in the nation's history when he hit a $314.9
million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day 2002. He chose to accept a lump sum of
about $113 million after taxes.

Since then, Whittaker's vehicle, business and home have been broken into
repeatedly. Last year, a strip club manager and his girlfriend were charged with
drugging Whittaker and stealing a briefcase containing more than $500,000 in cash
and cashier's checks. The money was recovered.

Nice. I never realized how lucky I was.

[BlogEntry] Why The %&@#* Is Punctuation So +@$! Violent?!

  • ! – bang
  • * – splat
  • \ – hack
  • / – slash
  • # – pound
  • ` – accent grave (Translated into English, this is a grave accident.)
  • : – colon (Not exactly violent, but still pretty graphic.)
  • ; – semicolon (Ew, half a colon! Where's the other half???)
  • , – comma (By now, I think we all realize this is actually coma.)
  • . – period (Also referred to as a menstruation point.)

[BlogEntry] Benjamin Franklin and John Stuart Mill

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."
           – Benjamin Franklin

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
           – John Stuart Mill

What's interesting about Franklin's quote is that liberals like to use it to bash Bush for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, look at the qualifiers Franklin uses: essential liberty and temporary security. I would say that liberals are much more guilty of deserving neither when they institutionalize taxing people and providing government handouts and programs like Social Security, welfare, unemployment, and all the other great ways that our government has created a society upon which its citizens rely for survival. The essential liberty of keeping the fruits of your labor has been sacrified for the temporary security of having the government ease the burdens of life. Do you think people looked to the government to bail them out and take care of them when Franklin made this statement? No, Americans were tough back then. They stood on their own two feet and didn't whine when life was hard. Today, we don't have a population that would fight for its own independence the way they did 228 years ago. Life is hard, and we've grown soft. Listen to people whine about battling the evil we face today. This is not the King of England. This is not taxation without representation. This is televised beheadings and women killing children.

Mr. Franklin was talking about frivilous sacrifices not worthy of the cost of liberty. Protecting our national security is hardly temporary, nor is it frivilous. We are in a battle with an evil enemy that does not tolerate our very existence. What is all of our idealogical debating worth if more attacks disrupt our way of life to the extent that we no longer have an organized government that is able to protect and defend the Constitution? Look at what the 9/11 attacks did to our economy. How much more could we absorb, before it started to genuinely affect our ability to feed ourselves, transport goods, do business, and aspire to more noble things than basic survival? We are indeed vulnerable, and there is nothing without survival. I am confident that Ben Franklin didn't think we should perish from the earth neglecting security in favor of liberty. It makes no sense. Benjamin Franklin made sense.

Which brings us to John Stuart Mill. What a wonderful quote. Peace at all costs is a life not worth living. Our enemies threaten us far worse today than ever before, yet we still have the Supreme Court deciding that prisoners in Gitmo deserve the right to a hearing. The Patriot Act has not turned this nation into a police state, despite all the alarmist propaganda about it. We are still living by our Constitution, in the face of this threat. I am proud of us for that.

I guess what I'm saying is stop worrying so much about the "small stuff." We are imbued with faith in and love of our Constitution. We can be counted on to uphold its principles and remain steadfast in protecting it. The checks and balances devised by the geniuses of the late 18th century really work. Our economy will bounce back. Our liberty will always be safeguarded. Every four years, we will elect a new President and have a peaceful transition of power. This nation will continue to operate by laws it was founded on. Stop being alarmist about the unrealistic threats, and let's not lose sight of who the real enemy is and where the real threats are.

[BlogEntry] Helium Doping

One of the most disappointing moments of the Olympics for me was hearing Paul Hamm speak.

And then, when I heard Carly Patterson speak, my heart sank.

With both American gymnastics winning Olympic gold medals in their respective individual competitions, the scandal will be huge. Gymnasts use helium for a number of reasons:

  • It lightens the body to allow for seemingly effortless feats of strength.
  • It creates a sense of confidence and near-euphoria.
  • Its inert nature makes it virtually undetectable by standard Olympic drug-screening methods.

Sadly, there are a number of side effects:

  • In men and post-pubescent boys, the upper-body musculature tends to "balloon" as the tissues fill with lighter-than-air gas trapped within the body cavity that tries to rise, looking for a way out. This gives the look of broad, musculature shoulders.
  • In women and post-pubescent girls, this same ballooning occurs to a lesser extent, due to the breasts acting something like a pair of holding tanks. The nature of helium creates a characteristic "perkiness."
  • Shortness of stature is a side-effect of helium abuse. As the body tries to float up from the ground, the athlete reflexively creates a downward pressure with their muscles to hold themselves to the Earth. This internal pressure defeats the body's natural growth process and results in "helium height."
  • The characteristic high-pitched voice is a tell-tale sign of sustained helium use. As anyone who has ever sucked in the contents of a balloon and then spouted off a string of obscenities at a party where they've just been introduced to marijunana knows, helium makes the voice "so fucking funny."

This is an ugly blemish on the American Olympic team and the sport of gymnastics in general. When will athletes, coaches, and helium pushers realize that their selfish actions hurt us all?

[BlogEntry] Mozilla Firefox Extensions

A couple of weeks ago, I installed
Mozilla Firefox, and I've got to say it's an environment in which I became very comfortable very quickly. I've had a few problems with printing, and there are still some kinks to be worked out, but it is overall a very usable browser.

One of the really nice features is the inherent extensibility of the platform. I've installed a couple of very powerful Extensions that make life so much easier. My favorite is
Mouse Gestures by Optimoz. If you've ever used a Palm to write in Graffiti, mouse gestures are a very natural way to interface with a computer. Even if you've never used Graffiti, this is not a hard thing to pick up. It's so cool to be able to open links, move from tab to tab, close tabs and windows, and do pretty much everything I want to do with simple mouse movements anywhere in the browser window. It sure beats having to travel across the screen and aim and click on a small area to execute a command. Considering that I probably execute <swag>10,000</swag> little commands a day, reducing the effort in each one adds up to a lot of savings.

Incidentally, if you've been through the extensive search I have to learn how to create Mozilla Extensions, it's almost spooky how hard it is to find the information. I think it's a better kept secret than Area 51. Here is the one and only tutorial I found on all the web! Thanks, RoachFiend! (With a handle like that, you'd better be careful about exposing such carefully guarded government secrets. 🙂

The interesting thing about Extensions, from what I read in Eric's excellent tutorial, is how simple they are to write. Admittedly, I'm brand new to the whole process, but it looks like the folks at Mozilla really did a nice job of making an already powerful platform easily extensible.

[BlogEntry] The Height of Selfishness

I awoke to over 1300 spam messages this morning.

It's just amazing to me how many people think only of themselves and not of the greater good. It's true of the Saddam Husseins and Yassir Arafats of the world. It's true of spammers. It's even true of the morons who proposed and promoted the CAN-SPAM Act. Gee, what a difference that has made.

Everybody's got their agenda, their axe to grind, their own self-interests to look out for.

Next time you do something, try to consider the Greater Good. Is what you are doing going to be positive for you but negatively impact someone else? If so, don't do it. Stop and think of another way to do something good for yourself that also does something good for others. It takes a little more effort, but it's well worth it.

This concept is what makes capitalism work. To do well for myself, I have to create a product or service that is positive and desirable for others. It's so simple, but it's a paradigm that brings about the best in most of us. Nay-sayers will gleefully throw the Enrons and their ilk in my face, but I would say they are an anomaly, not a natural result of capitalism. Besides, they got caught and are going to jail. The United States is a nation of checks and balances, from the three branches of government to the battle between corporate greed and journalistic integrity.

Just do your job with honor and a little thought to how it impacts others. This is all that's required to live in a peaceful world. Is that so much to ask?