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Friday, January 11, 2002
12:01 PM      

I read this in a magazine today. "Implications ought to inform implementations: that's the difference between clever and stupid..." That's strong stuff, if you let the meaning soak in. I know some people who could benefit from the distinction.


I saw a very cool word the other day: pleonasm - Using a lot of words when a few will suffice. Check out this month's word archive at

I wonder if there's a word that means not enough words?

I know it's not proper usage, but have you had a pleonasm today? <grin>How long can you go without one?</grin>

Did you know that according to Roget's there are only 6 main classes of words?


Today's spam special
I'm wondering if e-junk-mail works any better than the stuff we still get in the mailbox.

As the Circulation Director for Black Enterprise Magazine, I confess, I used to be a "junk mailer." The conventional wisdom back then was that a 2% response rate was worth writing home about. We'd mail 250,000 pieces in one shot. At 2%, that's 5000 new subscriptions. You'd lose a certain percentage in the billing process, and by then it would be time to send out another mailing... like clockwork.

And like clockwork, I see some of the same teaser copy in my inbox again and again. But they're slick - they keep changing the sender, to fool the simpler blocking schemes. I've got a spam filter on my internet service, and spam is so recognizable, that anything that makes it to my mailbox looking like spam, gets unceremoniously deleted.

So, I wonder who's even reading those spammy messages, much less responding. Maybe the only people who are making out on the whole spam thing, are the people who sell bulk e-mail programs.


Call me cynical.
Is it just me, or have you been feeling like you ought to stop, drop, and roll whenever you hear the word "hero", or someone utters any phrase related to September 11th? Lately, I find myself bracing for several minutes of heartstring-twanging whenever I hear one of those magic phrases. Maybe they ought to pass a bill that requires announcers to flash a warning on your TV screen that reads "MANIPULATION IMMINENT" when they do that.

"Anthrax" is so yesterday, but herpes looks like it's making a comeback, thanks to Valtrex.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2002
8:04 AM      

Oh, what a little web can do! [Make sure you purify.]

Hivelogic has one of the more interesting anti-spam solutions. If your email is posted on your website, it's likely that a spambot will try to harvest your address and start stuffing your mailbox with the electronic analogue to that familiar pink luncheon meat. Their idea? Encode your e-mail address, and surround it in a JavaScript wrapper. Clever. That's something like when doctors prescribe antibiotic cocktails to their patients to combat resistant strains; the one-two punch works where one drug or the other isn't sufficient.

We Must Never Forget - Scott Kidder has done what I need to do. Instead of obsessing to the nth degree, he's put together what he has about September 11th, and posted it. I have a bunch of photographs I've never put up. [Note to self - GET CRACKIN']


I had to laugh yesterday, as Katie Couric tried to defend the TV anchors for fanning the flames of hysteria. Gavin De Becker, author of "Fear Less", was on for a second segment of the Today Show promoting his book and talking about the reality of risk since 9-11 and the anthrax scare.

Katie suggested that running hysterical stories in the mass media focuses attention on public safety and other areas that need to be addressed. Have you noticed how little *new* information is on the news, lately? I guess they're too busy selling soap and insinuating to other folks about what they need to be working on.


Apple's new iMac looks cool. We need new hardware chez Benjamin. This might be the way to go. [more from the Chicago Tribune]


Slices of life
13 December '01
: A clump of yellow Police Scene tape is wrapped around the base of a light post, looking a lot like the ribbons that wrapped suburban trees during the Iran hostage crisis. A short distance up the street, tape has been applied to a gallery window in a pattern resembling an asterisk. It's probably covering a bullet hole.

The night before, we'd been told that the bus we were on was taking a detour, because of an ongoing investigation. Peering up South Oxford Street from the bus, you could see that several blocks had been closed off. When I got home, a story on the news filled in the blanks - there had been a shoot-out in the street. Five people had been shot. I think two were dead, and a third would die within days.

The unfortunate thing is, once the hysteria of "isn't it horrible?!" dies down, you never hear anything more about these stories, unless there's a sensational trial. There ought to be a way to follow these stories more directly. There's a human component to these stories that never seems to get out. There's a long-term effect, that we never find out about.


Earlier the same day... The man across the street sounds angry. He has a black broom in his hands and seems to be delivering a sermon. He's wearing a tan tweed jacket with faded blue jeans, and a baseball cap. The cap is white, and the bill is blue. He's got on a light blue shirt and a brownish patterned tie, which is held in place by a gold-tone bar. His leather gloves are black.

His stance is open; fearless. For a moment, I see him standing with his arms are extended outward from his sides. Most of the time, he's prowling back and forth across the intersection, or walking in circles on one vertex of the intersection. His voice is pretty much a growl. I can't make out much of what he's saying, but from time to time, phrases get through.

"Jesus is coming," he says... "put that in your pipe and smoke it - Just don't smoke it too fast. I want you to take it home and..." I don't know what he said after that. A while later, I can hear his voice bouncing off the buildings from around the corner, reciting The Lord's Prayer with feeling. He's putting heavy emphasis on some of the words "father"..."heaven"..."thy"..., etc. Who knows what the emphasis is supposed to mean.


On the bus 3 January '02: An older woman is standing in the aisle. She has dark, round glasses and an orangeish, wide-brimmed hat. It appears that her left canine tooth, and maybe one other, is missing. She's speaking very loudly. Her tone is indignant.

"My hands are tied..." she's saying. "Gonna use my mouth, like Montel Williams told me to do." Clearly she's inspired. "Everywhere I go, I preach the goddamned word of God!", she says. I continue moving past her to the rear of the bus, where the engine noise almost drowns her out. For the next 20 or so blocks, she never stops "preaching." I have no idea what she's been saying, but from time to time, I can hear the emphatic spikes of her voice over the engine's hum.


Street preachers almost always seem earnest and urgent. I often wonder if it's us they're trying to save, or themselves.

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