“Are you wobbling on your heels? How high are they?”

“I don’t know…two, three inches. You’re a guy— you’d know inches better than I would.”

— Melissa Joan Hart, on fashion

Halloween tally


I live in a suburb densely populated with families, most of which have children of trick-or-treating age. As an old campaigner myself, I feel a natural sympathy for the kids, and so I pass out double handfuls of candy that weigh, on average, half a pound.

Unfortunately, despite the ever-increasing safety of our streets, it looks like post-9/11 fears are driving the celebrations indoors, to shopping malls and community centers. I don’t know what it’s like at those events, because I stay home and pass out candy. I hope the kids are getting a good haul.

2001 was my first Halloween at the new house, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many kids turned up. I got maybe half as much traffic last year, and had enough leftover candy to feed the office for months.

This year, I cheaped out and only bought about 25 pounds of candy, so the 42 kids I’ve seen so far have made a serious dent in it. If I get a late rush, my fallback plan is to start passing out dollar bills; I’ve got thirty of them, which should satisfy another 15 little monsters.

Unfortunately, my cul-de-sac doesn’t look terribly inviting. More than half of the houses are dark, so I’ve gone out of my way to make it obvious that I’m in the game. The normally-garaged car is in the driveway, all the lights are on, the door is partially open, and the new teaser trailer from Alien vs Predator is blasting out of an upstairs window in a continuous loop. Seems to be working.

Oh, and the pizza driver was deeply confused about the $10 tip. Guess most people don’t think of Halloween as a major tipping holiday.

Latest variation on the Nigerian email scam


This actually made it past my spam filters. Once.

Needless to say, I won’t be helping this innocent victim of political persecution, wrongly jailed for “suspected genocide”. Nor will I keep his message a secret “for the sake of humanity”. In fact, I’d be delighted if it served as evidence against him. The person sending the spam, that is, not the fictional character in the message.

(the email address used was scraped from the blog Making Light; I’ve never used it anywhere else, and now that my filters trap about ten spams a day sent to it, I never will)

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Halloween Porn


As my contribution to Bush’s newly-declared Protection From Pornography Week (no, seriously), I hereby commit to visiting J-List and purchasing issues of Bejean, Urecco, and Japanese Penthouse, as well as at least one lesbian-schoolgirl DVD, a hentai game, and a Hello Kitty “Shoulder Massager” (for a friend). That should keep them out of the hands of children.

No bukkake videos, though; ick.

I’ll do something more elaborate next year. Probably involving pictures of Jenna.

MT plugin: breaklinks


My contribution to warding off comment spam: reduce its value to the spammers by breaking their URLs. The blog owner (and trusted friends) can keep their URLs intact by adding a password to their comments.

This doesn’t stop someone from flooding your blog with spam; it’s just a lightweight filter to eliminate the benefit. pornospam.com won’t get hits or page-rank from a URL that’s been rewritten to pornospam-DOT-com.

.vg/.biz


Very little email spam actually gets through to me any more. OS X’s Mail.app weeds out about 40 a day based on content, leaving about three a day that consist entirely of inline JPG images. Which Mail.app doesn’t load.

The subject lines make it clear that they’re obvious spam, so my latest trick is to view the raw source, look for the link to the picture, and add that domain to a custom rule. For the past few weeks, virtually all of these have been links to sites in the .VG top-level domain. From the host names involved, it’s clear that the registrar is in on the scam, so I’ve junked all messages containing “.vg/”. Works like a charm.

Today, a few got through with .BIZ domains, and I realized that I’ve never seen a legitimate business that had a .BIZ domain. So I added “.biz/” to the list as well.

The rule also junks messages containing “http://1" through “http://9"; I think that one still catches about ten spams a day.

Project Eden/They Live


Continuing my trend of finding out about DVD releases a month after they reach the stores, I tripped across a copy of Dirty Pair: Project Eden today. I practically knocked over the shelf in my haste to grab it, because my ancient bootleg VHS copy is almost unwatchable, and this is one of my favorite OAVs. There’s just something about scantily clad Women of Mass Destruction.

[The Dirty Pair Flash DVDs, and the recent graphic novel Run From The Future, on the other hand, do nothing for me; I don’t like the art, and I don’t like how they redefine the characters. The rest of the stuff is action/comedy gold, though.]

My other recent discovery was the John Carpenter cult classic They Live, best known for the lengthy and surprisingly realistic fight scene, in which two big guys beat the crap out of each other, and then spend the rest of the movie limping around like someone just beat the crap out of them. Loads of fun, and a far better alien-invasion story than just about anything else ever made in Hollywood.

None of the local retailers have They Live in stock. When I asked, one chain store manager complained “they ship me two copies of a great film, and thirty copies of crap I’ll never be able to sell.”

The local Borders cheerfully offered to order it for me, and since I’ve still got at least a dozen DVDs piled up to watch, I told them to go ahead. When I checked back today, I discovered that they expect it to take one month to get the order in, if it’s in their warehouse.

WTF? A recent release, and the best they can do is send the warehouse a polite note asking if they could pretty-please send one along sometime after Thanksgiving? Should I point out to them that borders.com is an Amazon storefront, and I could have it before the week is out?

Bandits, one-armed


Just went through a twenty-minute phone survey on a California ballot measure to tax indian casinos and allow card parlors to install slot machines. As usual, there were several questions I couldn’t give a completely honest answer to, and the guy asking the questions shared my amusement at my “unclassifiable” responses. The bit from the opposition about how the eeeeeevil pornographers would benefit just made me laugh out loud, but all he could record was “would not convince me to oppose the measure”.

On the whole, it was a fairly balanced survey, asking you four times about your support for the measure, first after hearing a basic summary, then after hearing pro arguments, then con, and finally “if Arnold supported it, would you be more likely to support it?”. There were also questions related to how you voted in the recall, the last general election, the last presidential election, and if you were determined to vote in the next presidential election. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the results.

I did think it was interesting that the measure allowed existing card parlors to install up to 30,000 slot machines statewide, but also prohibited opening new card parlors. That was the item that most reduced my interest in supporting this measure. If you’re going to expand gambling in California, don’t play favorites.

This makes two good phone surveys I’ve participated in in my lifetime. The last one was about 15 years ago, on the subject of mayonnaise.

[Disclaimer: I like slot machines, especially since I’ve always ended up coming out ahead by hundreds of dollars, but I’ll continue to play them exclusively in Vegas. I’m not really a gambler, I just enjoy hanging out in casinos and watching the pretty women go by. I suspect California card/slot parlors won’t have the same caliber of scenery.]

A glowing victory


Things not to do in Civilization III: detonate 270 ICBMs in one turn, blasting every other civilization back into the stone age (or at least to cities of size 3 or below).

Why shouldn’t you do this? Because the resulting global warming took fifteen minutes to resolve. That’s fifteen minutes each turn, for the rest of the game. Fortunately, there were only a few turns left, as my Modern Armor rolled across the countryside razing cities. Then I signed peace treaties with the survivors.

Belatedly, it occurred to me that this is the sort of behavior that the folks in Berkeley and Hollywood are expecting from the current administration.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”