American comments

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I only show comments on recent posts in my sidebar, but I may change because I’ve been getting a lot of interesting comments on older posts lately. I think the pickup drivers who have a confederate flag in the back of their trucks have discovered weblogging.

For instance, in Ladylike Behavior, a post that talked about Jessica Lynch, among other female warriors, a writer named Erin wrote:

She got caught !!!!!!!!!
What about the men and women that died fighting for their country…..?????????? Where is their movie?? What about their families..She is going home..they aren’t..What’s so special about her ??????
That’s what I’d like to know…………She goes home, writes a book, makes a movie, must be nice.
Let her be the one to let the parents or loved one be told someone has died..Is she brave enough to do that ?? I doubt it !!!!

I don’t think many of us are brave enough to face a mother or husband or daughter and tell them someone they love isn’t coming home because we just had to go to Iraq this year. I mean, if our President and Vice-President and Secretary of Defense can’t face them, how can we?

But look – Jessica did come home after shooting her way past the evil Iraqi and being rescued from the evil Iraqi. Oh wait a sec – wrong script.

Then in Dixie Land, the post about the Confederate Flag pickup driving good ole southern hicks, anonymous writes:

Yeah, Dan that stat about the Klan membership in Connecticut is accurate (in fact, at one point during the peak of the Klan’s power, CT actually had the second highest rate of Klan membership). There is intense division and tension in CT between the urban and the rural areas. Also, in CT there has been a long history and pattern of extremely violent and cowardly black on white crimes. For your continued edification on the matter: most recently a young, white female who was a graduate student at the University of New Haven was dragged out of her car at an intersection one night by four “African-Americans”, whereupon they proceeded to a)kidnap her, b)gang-rape her, c) beat her to the brink of death, and d)leave her bloodied body laying in the woods for dead. Now I know Dan Rather didn’t tell you about that one, and I know there are no MTV sponsored candle-light vigils for the victim (because, hell, she’s only white–it’s not like she’s gay or hispanic or something where we could pin an “ism” on the savage animals), but rest assured, that incident is only one of many, many crimes like that which have been committed in CT by our “African-American” community. As usual, the local news would not call it a hate crime, and in fact, all of the stations except for FOX would not give a description of the savage monkeys for fear of “placing minorities in a bad light.” And as usual, the Democrat machine in CT is silent (as well as the rather effeminate Republicans). Go venture into the farmlands and woodlands of CT however, and into many of the white, working class neighborhoods of the old mill-towns—-you’ll see more rebel flags than if you were in Mississipi, and FOR GOOD REASON. The hate in CT is only increasing, as more and more white youths in CT are beginning to turn their backs to the social indoctrination machine of the public school system and open their eyes to the cold, ugly reality of black America and the absolute moral cowardice of the Eminem worshipping liberal machine. Call me a racist, a Nazi, or whatever witty phrase or term that meets your fancy, but deep down in the guts of your WHITE mind, you know us north-country white wolves are RIGHT. Just go walk through their free housing (what some call “projects”)some time. (And no, I’m not a Klan member)

You think I should hide comments like this? Why? These people are out there – trying to pretend that we’re all one big happy family, that being black in this country is no different than being white, that the hate is restricted to the south, tell me: who is that helping?

Finally, tonight, on the post The Pledge about the phrase …under God, a person who calls themselves a ‘true American’, wrote:

Our constitution is based on the bible as a tool that teaches morality and law because in the 1700’s we had no law enforcement apparatus. The laws taught us by the Bible, and the belief in Jesus Christ, is the very basis of our nations government. Like it or not, you sorry non-believer liberals are wrong, and should move to some country you where you will be accepted. I hear France is accepting imigrants.

Of course, this follows on comments:

Our country was founded on God! People wanted religous freedom. And read the Constitution right, it says seperation of the state from church. meaning the state is not suppose to control the church. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in God. You can’t erase our history. And our country’s foundation is built on God.You can’t change that.


You are all so worried that having God in our country is dangerous, but I’d be more afraid of a world without God. That’s probably because without God there would be no world in the first place.

Let’s see, I read this as four votes for Bush, one for the Dems. Dean, Clark, Gephardt, and the rest of you kids – you’re just going to have to do better if you want to be elected next year.

At this point, Lolita and viagra-rx don’t seem all that bad.

Photography Weblogging

B-loglines and B-rocks

I’ve never been one for aggregators, until Bloglines. I love Bloglines, I really do. I can access it from both my Dell laptop and my TiBook, and even my roommate’s laptop if need be. The interface is clean and easy to work with, and there’s no fancy moving parts to get in the way of what it is – an aggregator.

However, after seeing my “first 200 character” based excerpts in the tool, I found myself contemplating that an excerpt isn’t just a bit of useless information – it’s a thing of beauty. Another opportunity where one can exercise one’s creativity and imagination.

My, I never knew that aggregators could be such fun! I’ll never look at excerpts in quite the same way, again.

Yesterday, late, I posted my last photo for the mineral collection. Lots of pictures on every page – I don’t recommend those with a slow connection accessing the photoblog. All that’s left to do, now, is finish the descriptions and add a few more stories and then I’ll publish the link around the rock community.

I was looking through the rock photos tonight: at the valuable aquamarines and dioptase and rhodochrosite, as well as the much less valuable members such as this Peacock Rock. It’s formal name is Chalcopyrite, and the rock’s copper base is what creates that lovely iridescence.

The value of a crystal is based on rarity and quality of the specimen as much, or more, than its beauty. Some of the most interesting, fascinating, and lovely rocks in our collection can also be the cheapest. The rock quartz and the apophyllite, and the cheap garnets – pretty, but a dime a dozen. So we don’t talk about them.

It is the valuable members of our collections we talk about – the ones we show off, put in the front of the cabinets, bring out first to show to visitors.

No, in my collection rocks such as my Pet Rock, the above Peacock Rock, or my gen-u-ine 24 carat gold electroplated quartz crystal never get mentioned. I might point them out if you notice them, but with a self-deprecating chuckle – see this rock, it’s not an important rock. You want to pay attention to that rock there. See? The one in the light.


A semantic conversation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

When Clay Shirky’s paper on Semantic Weblogging first came out and I saw the people referencing it, I thought, “Oh boy! Fun conversation!” But that was before I saw that many of the links to Clay’s paper were from what are called ‘b-links’ I believe – links in side columns that basically have little or no annotation.

I guess what a b-link says is that the person found the subject material interesting, but we don’t know if they agree or disagree. An unfortunate side effect of these new weblogging bonbons is that it’s hard to have a conversation when the only statement a person makes is, “I’m here. I saw.”

What led to this is Sam Ruby continued his discussion about Clay’s paper, saying Links are unquestionably the greatest source for semantic data within weblogs. What we see is that even with something that we all know and understand such as the simple link, you can’t pull semantics out when none is put into in the first place.

Still, not all links were b-links. Tim Bray talks about Semantic Web from the big picture, and references big corporations with big XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) files and all that juicy corporate data found at and To him, the Semantic Web will only come about if there is a mass dispersion of data, and in this case, dispersion of data from Big Companies.

But the original Web didn’t start big, it started small. It began with masses of little web sites, with bright pink or heavily graphical backgrounds and really ugly fonts and some of us even used the BLINK tag. Remember animated GIFs? Remember how excited you got with an animated GIF? That’s nothing compared to the link, though, our very first, link. Do you remember when you lost your link virginity?

We swooned when someone told us about a ‘web form’, and this processing we could do called “CGI”. And then someone posted the first picture of a naked girl, and that was all she wrote.

Tim, man, you got to get down, son. Scrabble in the hard pack with the rest of us plain folk. Yank off that tie, and put on some Bermudas and hang with the hometown gang for a bit. You been with the Big Bad Business Asses too much – you forgot your roots.

What I do agree with in Clay’s paper is that the semantic web is going to come from the bottom up. It is going to come from RSS, and from FOAF, and from all the other efforts currently on the web (I need to start putting a list of these together). It’s going to start when we take an extra one minute when we post to choose a category or add a few keywords to better identify the subject of our posts. It will flourish when more people start taking a little bit of extra time to add a little bit more information because someone has demonstrated that the time will be worth it.

It will come about when people see the benefits of smarter data. Small pieces, intelligently joined.

Which leads to the good Doctor, one of the two Influential Bloggers that Tim references – David expanded on his earlier comment about Clay’s paper by saying:

I don’t think Clay is arguing that all metadata is bad. Rather, he’s saying that it doesn’t scale. Yes, the insurance industry might be able to construct a taxonomy that works for it, but the Semantic Web goes beyond the local. It talks about how local taxonomies can automagically knit themselves together. The problem with the Semantic Web is, from my point of view, that it can’t scale because taxonomies are tools, not descriptions, and thus don’t knit real well.

To back this up David references the problems with SGML – how we can’t find or agree on the ideal DTDs to pull this all together. This is an expansion of his agreement with Clay’s response on Worldviews and compatibility. I’ve worked on two industry data modeling efforts: PDES (manufacturing) and POSC (petroluem and energy). I know what David is talking about – it is hard to get people to agree on data.

This is a name, you say. I say, a name of what. You say, a name of a person. I say, a first name? A last? A proper name? A name that’s an identifier? A maiden name? A dead person? A live one? An important person? By this time you’re frustrated and screaming back: It’s just a damn name! Why are you making it so complicated?

I do hear what David is saying. But the thing with the semantic web, though, is that it’s already started.

This group can go off and do their thing, and we can do ours and someday we may need to map the data, and that’s cool. In the meantime though thanks to the use of a model and namespaces, you can have your name, and I can have mine and we don’t have to stop working to get agreement first to exist within the same space. When we get to that point where we do need to work together, then we’ll sit and talk – but its not going to be detrimental to what’s happened in the past. If we find that my postcon:source is the same as your bifcom:target then we’ll just define this little rule that says, ‘these are equivalent’. But I’ll still generate postcon:source and you can still generate bifcom:target.

(*bang* *bang* *bang*

Do you hear that sound? That’s me banging my head against a door. And no, the hollow sound is from the door, not my head. There’s a reason we keep wanting to use one model for our work – so that someday when we want to make our data work together, it is just as simple as defining that one silly little rule.)

You know what my definition of semantic web is? You’ve all heard this before. Even Tim Berners-Lee has heard this from a scathing comment he made in the W3C Tag mailing list, once. My idea of semantic web is if I can look for a poem that uses a metaphor of bird as freedom, and get back poems that have bird as metaphor for freedom. But you know, I don’t have to go everywhere in the web to look for this – if I could just do this at something like, or among the poetry weblogs I know, I’d be content.

I don’t have to scour the complete world wide web today. I don’t have to get every interpretation of every poem that has ever used bird as metaphor today. I can start with a small group of people convinced that this is the way to go. And eventually, other poetry fans, and high school sophmores, will also see the benefit of doing a little bit of extra work when putting that poem online, aided and abetted by helpful tools. It’s from this tiny little acorn, big mother oaks grow.

How do you think RSS started? Or FOAF for that matter?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: my semantic web is not The Semantic Web. They won’t give nobel prizes for it, and it won’t be a deafening flash or a blinding roar. It will just make my life a bit easier than what what it is now. Some folks who like the Semantic Web won’t necessarily like or agree with my simple, little small ’s’, semantic, small ‘w’ web. But I don’t care, and neither does it.

In this semantic web, people like Danny Ayers with his good humored patience persistence supporting RDF and the ’semantic web, will have just as much an impact as any Tim, Dave, or Clay.

One last thing: I wanted to also comment on Dare Obasanjo’s post on this issue. Dare is saying that we don’t need RDF because we can use transforms between different data models; that way everyone can use their own XML vocabulary. This sounds good in principle, but from previous experience I’ve had with this type of effort in the past, this is not as trivial as it sounds. By not using an agreed on model, not only do you now have to sit down and work out an agreement as to differences in data, you also have to work out the differences in the data model, too. In other words – you either pay upfront, once; or you keep paying in the end, again and again. Now, what was that about a Perpetual Motion Machine, Dare?

However, don’t let me stop you from using XML and your own home grown data model and rules and regs. But we won’t let this stop us from using RDF and RDF/XML.

The point I’m trying to make is this: the semantic web is here. It snuck in quietly while the rest of us were debating. It is viral, slowly putting out little tendrils of applicability throughout the web. The only problem we’re really having is that we’re not recognizing it now because no huge rocket burst into the air going “Semantic Web is here! Semantic Web is here!”

I think what we’re missing is the semantic web equivalent of the animated GIF. Something with lots of moving parts so that people know it’s working.

(P.S. Liz> has started pulling all of the links on this issue into one permanent record.)

Technology Weblogging

Comment spam? Or DoS?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The topic about comment spam still rages, with people following the spammer’s tracks to shut them down or at a minimum harass them with bills and whatnot. The spammers then come back with, “It’s all legal, your comment forms are open.”

Well, yes and no. Try thinking of comment spam as a Denial of Service (DoS) and the legality changes, real quick. All it takes is using Movable Type with comment emailing turned on and then getting hit with close to 150 comment spams at once, as happened to me this morning before I shut the web server down to stop it.

When you have this many comment spams at once on Movable Type, with the associated activities such as database lookup, update, and email, then any and all other activity basically slows down to a crawl, or stops completely. Since the person deliberately triggers this many updates at once, it is a deliberate denial of service, and hence a DoS, and against the law.

This is the approach I’m taking to fighting back at comment spam of this nature.
If the spammer just did a few comments and I had better comment control, this wouldn’t bother me. But the recent multi-post blitzes, well they take down the system and I’m getting right tired of this.

I’ve already warned the company hosting the dial-up, and the company providing the nameservers – one more DoS and I’m filing a criminal complaint.

Mt-blacklist would have stopped the multi-post blitz, but I don’t have mt-blacklist installed – it stopped working for me with version 1.5, and still doesn’t work with version 1.6. Since I’m trying to move several webloggers to a new server, I don’t have time to work through what’s out of synch.

However, I do want to take this time to refresh my Movable Type wish list (and yes, Six Apart, you can put this into a commercial variety of the beast – just don’t go crazy on the fees, okay? )

Movable Type Comment and Trackback Wish List

Pretty please, sirs and lovely lady. May I have some more…

– Comment control: pull up and review comments by email, url, and IP address. Allow deletion based on all entries pulled up, or based on checks next to each item. Allow this at the installation level, not the weblog level – and also provide rebuild based on deleted entries

– Trackback control: ditto

– Blitz Prevention: Test to make sure the blitz doesn’t happen, this is really killing my system each time it happens. Restrict based on number of comments posted within an inhuman length of time for the same IP, or something of that nature.

(This is a real killer for me and I may hack the code myself to stop these blitzes, because I have a feeling I’m going to be getting these more frequently.)

I’d rather have these then blacklisting. We in the Wayward Weblogger co-op are already suffering because of uncontrolled blacklisting from SPEWS and I’m not sympathetic to banning in any form, though I can understand why people like this preventative measure.

(Not that I don’t appreciate Jay Allen and his mt-blacklist (which I wish I could get working again) – right now it’s the only thing standing between us the howling comment spammers at the door.)

As for the new wars: I think i’ts good we’re all fighting back, as long as we all remember something: anyone who we push can push back, and most of us share servers with others. When you say you’re going to put yourself on the line – you might want to spare a moment or two to the others you’re dragging along with you in your crusade. Be deliberate if you’re going to pick a fight, knowing all the consequences.