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Thursday, August 08, 2002
8:56 AM      

A certain amount of spam has been getting through the spam filter on my Earthlink account every day. I was wondering if it was still on, so I checked it out. Oh - it's on, allright. I discovered nearly 500 spam messages that had accumulated in the last 10 days. Still, I'd guess that 10-20 spams get through each day. I took a look at the FAQ for my spam filter, and came across this:

NEVER send a reply to a spammer with a remove request. This only confirms that your address is valid, and you'll probably get even more spam.

Just thought I'd pass the tip along. I tried unsubscribing to a few of the spam mails. Many of the links led nowhere. A couple seem to have worked, a t least in the short term.

I've seen spam messages that claim that any e-mail with an opt-out link is not considered spam by Congress. Not true. No federal laws regarding spam have been enacted, although some states have. take a look

Andrea has an e-mail account where the only mail that gets through is from senders that she's added to an approved list. I don't like that idea very much, because it means I have to regularly sift my blocked messages for legit mail. I hope better systems will come. A lot of time gets wasted, dealing with junk mail.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, August 07, 2002
8:53 PM      

Something odd is going on. A buddy of mine just forwarded an e-mail about increasing website traffic using their oh-so-wonderful search engine submission service. What's so weird about that? The e-mail references!

I'll have to check the guestbook, and see if he made an entry. I suspect these yokels have a spambot that's harvesting guestbooks. I've also had people posting spammy messages in the guestbook. It might be time to take it down.

[ link | e-me ]

8:57 PM      

Yup, just as I suspected. He's got an entry in the guestbook. Everybody that has an entry in there probably got spammed.

I know everybody has to make a living, but this is ridiculous.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, August 06, 2002
12:43 PM      
Rebecca's pocket has an interesting tutorial called Three Ways to Improve External Search Engine Usability on Digital Web


Bush held up plan to hit Bin Laden

Julian Borger in Washington
Monday August 5, 2002
The Guardian

The Bush administration sat on a Clinton-era plan to attack al-Qaida in Afghanistan for eight months because of political hostility to the outgoing president and competing priorities, it was reported yesterday. ...

The news emerged as the political truce that followed the terrorist attacks evaporates in the heat of the looming congressional elections in November. It represents the strongest indictment so far of the Bush team's preparedness for an attack. ...

According to today's Time magazine, Mr Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger and Mr Clarke outlined the threat in briefings they provided for Condoleezza Rice, George Bush's national security adviser, in January 2001, a few weeks before she and her team took up their posts. ...

Mr Clarke, who stayed on in his job as White House counter-terrorism tsar, repeated his briefing for vice president Dick Cheney in February. ...

However, Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, was more interested in the national missile defence plan, and the new attorney general, John Ashcroft, was more interested in using the FBI to fight the "war on drugs" and clamping down on pornography. In August, he turned down FBI requests for $50m for the agency's counter-terrorist programme.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, appeals from the Northern Alliance's leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud, for more US aid fell on deaf ears. He was assassinated on September 9.

Denise told me that there was a report in Time magazine this week. From the headline, she thought the article was pointing the finger at Clinton. I think some members of the press might finally be waking up to what a seedy, clandestine mess is going on in the White House.

Also check out Guardian's special report: "George Bush's America"

Of special note:
August 3: President George Bush left Washington for his parents' summer home yesterday for a month-long holiday, to growing criticism of his relaxed schedule. A defensive White House insisted that the criticisms were nothing but "silly pot-shots".

"In times of financial crisis and international crisis, the public looks for hands-on, confident leadership. What we're going to see is every other day photo-ops from the ranch." ...

His decision to reduce his 31-day holiday by a few days last year meant he avoided the unwelcome distinction of becoming the longest-holidaying president in history, an honour still held by Richard Nixon for his 30-day trip to San Clemente in California in 1969. ...

"But it's really not the vacation he's taking. It's the job he's doing ...Taking a month-long vacation and putting [treasury] Secretary [Paul] O'Neill out there to talk about the economy are probably not the two best strategies."



Funny-- Guardian's weblog has an entire section about the state of the art of courtship in the UK.

...[Leah McLaren's] thesis is that the English make terrible lovers, because they won't have sex unless drunk, don't know the first thing about courtship and will do anything to avoid a 'date'. Our thesis: English men make the best lovers, because they know the 'date' is a joyless ritual for people who take themselves too seriously, and are prepared to throw away the rulebook, secure in the knowledge that they have the best sense of humour in the world. Especially after a drink or two.

Gotta go...

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, August 05, 2002
2:56 PM      

Spent yesterday checking out the New York City Cycling Championship. We found an excellent location with a clear view and shade. There was a warm-up period before the start of the race. Of course, the crowd went wild as Lance passed through. Like the NYC Marathon, you knew when he was approaching, because the roar of the crowd moved along with him. Very few people had come out for the citizen's race, or even the women's division race before, but as the men's pro race got started, the crowd solidified.

the race was fun. A breakaway formed, and had a 1:15 lead over the pack at one point. Then, with about 6 laps to go, Lance and the gang got to work and closed down the gap in about 2 laps.

One of the Postal riders, Cruz, was in the breakaway group, and looked to be in good position to win. In the end, I think he was 6th.

Of course, Lance was the one they all really showed up for. The crowd went nuts any time he went by, but especially when he spun by at the front of the pack.

Oh, did I say it was pretty, too?


On Broadway, we spotted this car.

It's called the Smart Car, it comes from Daimler Chrysler, and they're becoming very popular in Europe, where two of them can fit in a single parking space. The two-seater town cars look to be about $12,000 - $18,000 (the prices on the site are in pounds).

Looks like they're catching on over here. I found a street shot of one over at Scripting News, too.

[ link | e-me ]

Sunday, August 04, 2002
8:32 AM      

8/1 was our fourth anniversary! One way we celebrated was to see Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire fame at the Blue Note. Great room. Great show. Philip's doing this project during down time for EWF.

In an intimate setting like the Blue Note, you can really get in touch with everything that's special about a performer, and I've seen some memorable performances there, including Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorius, and even Chaka Khan.

Philip had some tasty surprises for us all - lyrical reinterpretations of classic jazz tunes like Freddy Hubbard's "Red Clay" and Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story." His rendition of Les McCann and Eddie Harris' "Compared to What" was a groove. Even "Serpentine Fire" and "Fantasy" were given special treatment. It's clear how deep the roots of Jazz reach into his music. This was no exercise in jazzified pop.

Two things struck me in particular - Philip has taken care of himself and his voice. His falsetto is as sweet, clear and strong as ever. And amazingly, the man is a gifted percussionist. I had no idea.

The show was a surprise from Denise, who found out about it months ago, and made the reservations without saying a word. We do really good anniversaries.

Thanks, honey!


Saw "Signs" yesterday afternoon. Interesting, but didn't bowl me over. Interesting: double-play on the meaning of the word "sign." A lot of inquiry into what faith provides - I figure it will piss off the religiously sensitive. The pacing was a little uneven. There were some good moments of tension, and some good funny bits. I think the best performances/most interesting characters were by the kids and the woman who plays the police officer. This movie attempts to cover new ground, but it's not the same caliber as "The Sixth Sense" or even "Unbreakable."


Interesting -- Born Magazine: Art and literature together...


Surprise! The Administration does the right thing!
Don't let it be said that I only focus on the bad news about DumbDubya and his white house shenanegans...

...The rule, approved by the White House yesterday, was developed as part of a settlement between engine manufacturers and the Clinton administration in 1998 after the companies were charged with violating emission limits that contribute to smog.

Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had already affirmed the Bush administration's intention of adhering to the Clinton position on diesel emissions as part of a major long-range plan to require diesel trucks and buses to cut emissions by 90 percent by 2007. The environmental agency estimates that the requirement could prevent 8,300 premature deaths annually....

"This is a pro-environmental decision by the E.P.A.," said Sandra Schubert, an air expert with the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. "The environmental community has a lot of skepticism about the Bush administration, but in the area of diesel emissions, they have been very pro-environment. This is a good move."

Less happy were some truck makers and Republican lawmakers, who met earlier this summer with Ms. Whitman to complain that the new rule and penalties could have "devastating consequences" for the industry, which may have to spend as much as $4 billion a year to comply....

read more [ NYT link - registration req'd ]


Funny how we're looking more and more like fundamentalist third-world barbarians on some issues, while the rest of the world is waking up: I read that Turkey's parliament recently abolished the death penalty and legalized education and broadcasts in Kurdish...

It's been a while since Bush has threatened people about "watching what they say," but they're still putting them down like dogs in Texas. On "Welcome to Texas" signs, maybe they ought to add a tagline like they have on McDonald's signs: "Over x hundred killed."


Trying to look the part
Or, Econometric Cheerleading, Part 64

"Forgive me if the newly signed corporate fraud bill doesn't make me want to rush out and buy stock.

"It's not reassuring that we've expanded our use of the term "evildoers" from terrorists hiding in caves to top executives being led out of expensive homes in handcuffs.

"It's even less comforting to know we'll have a new corps of federal regulators looking over the shoulders of corporate auditors who are supposed to be looking over the shoulders of corporate executives who might be cooking the books...."

From a Chicago Trib Op-Ed piece. [ Registration req'd ]


No child left behind?
"Despite decades of attempts to foster educational equity, big barriers remain: the achievement gap between students of color and white students has widened since 1988..."

From an interesting article on one of Harvard's websites. Read more


Telephone spam
Talking to a friend of mine the other night, I was reminded of how much more aggressive telemarketers seem to be these days. When someone calls on the phone for Linda Gill (an old girlfriend) or Louise Benjamin, I just say "There's no one here by that name," and that usually ends it. The other day, the person on the other end of the phone didn't skip a beat and said "Oh - well that happens sometimes. Our information isn't always up to date, but you might be interested..." I wasn't and hung up. I guess the telemarketers have now found the equivalent of "Or current resident" that often appears on junk mail addresses.

But wait, there's more! One day, I answered the phone "Hello" and heard nothing. I said it a second time, and a recording of a woman's voice started her pitch. A voice-activated sell-droid. I was amazed to check my voice mail one night, and hear a telemarketer's pitch. That's a definite change of policy...

Of course, in each of these cases, I didn't stay around to hear the pitch. I couldn't tell you what company they represented, or what the pitch was for. I tuned them out instantly.

I've had enough sales jobs to know what they're up against. As a reformed junk mailer [I was the circulation director for a magazine, and we even used phone sales for some of our subscription business] I had a lot of sympathy for the poor goof who'd gotten roped into selling on the phone. A few of these companies actually do a good job, although most are lousy.

At some point it became clear to me that the monkeys on the end of the line were just awkwardly stumbling along a script, and had no real interest in whether their offering had any real value. Hell, they hadn't even bothered to learn the script by heart. That's when I gave myself the green light to just shut em' down whenever they call. My standard answer these days is "Not interested - bye." Then I hang up. I don't say "thanks" -- I'm not grateful for their call, and I'm not willing to pretend that I am. I don't wait to hear the response -- you know it's just going to be some drivel to try to keep you on the line anyway. What, do these guys get paid on connect time?

[ link | e-me ]
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