Spam spam spam spam

Had to add a new spam blocker plugin as, in the terms of the street, that shit was getting immense.

Sadly just blocking the IPs was no longer cutting it as I was getting stuff from lots of random IPs as opposed to just one really persistent one (highest so far is 486 attempts this month from one IP I banned ages ago).

Also, it appeared the “I like your blog very much I read with great interest PS BUY CHEAP PILLS ONLINE FROM MOTHER RUSSIA” comments have petered out to be replaced by strings of nonsensical consonants, because I’m so much more likely to tick one of those off as a legitimate comment.  It’s like arguing with someone who sounds like they are making sense, but really they are just dragging out the conversation and then they suddenly decide to start barking random syllables at you.

KIRSABLENARFAN!  DISFERENGENGENGENGEN!  YENWENFIRBZTFRINK!

This shit can’t be working for anyone, can it?  Really?

Next time, find out how I got ripped in two weeks without weights, and how a single mom discovered the trick to turning yellow teeth white!  Also, the secret of ultra-high scores in Bejeweled Blitz!

Going on holiday, why summer cinema is a washout, and why I shouldn’t be reading news websites.

So, at the end of the week Lisa and I are off to Italy!  Hooray!  I get to wander around lovely Tuscany going “ooh isn’t it pretty?” and Lisa gets to have her bum pinched by Berlusconi (it could happen).

She’s been practising with the phrasebook, which has been interesting to listen to.  There’s a touch of the it’s-a-me, Mario! to her delivery as she reads out the carefully-split phonetic renderings, bouncing a little on the emphasis, that adds a certain comic charm to lines like, “I do not want a blood transfusion” and “can you use a clean needle?

We were meant to go and see The Ugly Truth on Monday, an event which ended up not happening due to someone not being able to make it along.  I can’t say I was too bothered, really.  So far I’ve missed out on quite a lot of cinema viewing this summer, and from the trailers I’ve seen perhaps I’m stretching the term, ‘missed out’ to the very limits of definition.  I have missed out on wasting money on humourless industry potboiler churn would be more appropriate.  I popped onto Apple’s trailer site the other day and sat through ten minutes of increasingly generic twaddle that made me suspect the Apocalypse is long past and no-one had quite noticed yet.  I mean, Sandra Bullock has already had her yearly rom-com, hasn’t she?  Do we really need another?  Going to the In Development section of IMDB, the titles forthcoming up to 2012 include Bridesmaids, Jingle, One of the Guys, Kiss & Tango, and The Sprinkler Queen.  Who’s with me on betting at least two are about a kooky, socially inept woman who has no time for a personal life meeting the man of her dreams and winning him over with the hitherto unrecognised sunniness she hides inside?

I know, I know.  You’d all bet it was 4 of them.

All of this leads me on to my morning internet reading, which includes a browse of the BBC news website and the Guardian.  I won’t even start on the BBC news, at least in an in-depth fashion.  Lets just say, whoever sits down every morning and decides that yes, these are the big stories that require as much lead time as possible, needs a goddamn slap.  Along with that, whoever has the job of going out and getting a ‘public reaction’ needs to do something other than  picking the first person they see and just making do with that.  I read news stories on there and just get angrier and angrier and angrier.

The top story of the day is “Unemployment poised to rise again”, with the strap revealing that the actual numbers are yet to be released.  So, what it really is, is speculation, not news.  Granted, it’s a pretty safe bet, but then if we were to take this method to it’s logical conclusion, the headlines should really read:

Sun expected to rise tomorrow

Giant ball of gas in space is expected to illuminate the British countryside again, following a brief dip overnight.

OK, so it turned out I *was* going to rant about it after all, which leaves me hardly any space to rant about the Guardian website being so full of op-ed bullshit that I think it’s somewhat remiss for them to call hijinks over the Investor’s Business Daily printing a fallacious comment about Stephen Hawking.  At least the IBD Editors went and removed the erroneous paragraph (although I guess they stopped short of rolling up a newspaper and smacking the author of the piece over the nose with it), a full day before the Guardian featured it in their online diary.

Of course I could take all the space I want, this being my ‘blog and all, but there’s a certain limit I hit when ranting after which I just start making spluttering noises and start weeping in an uncontrolled fashion that makes it hard to see the screen.  Since I’m dangerously close to that point, and I doubt you want to see what happens when I inneffectually paw the keyboard while gurning and wailing (but you do that already, I hear you cry), I’ll leave it there.

This morning on the interwebs.

I learned that John Hughes has passed away, at the age of 59 from a heart attack.  Although I grew out of the kind of movies he wrote, produced and directed (I passed on such offerings as Flubber, Maid in Manhattan and Drillbit Taylor), his earlier offerings were enthusiastically watched in my youth, over and over and over again.

No doubt there are going to be a lot of Ferris Bueller references today, and maybe more than a few Home Alone ones in there…how about we go a little further back and watch the trailer for Mr. Mom?

Ah, simpler times.

In other news, this article may be of interest to my brother.  Doug Fine has gone the way of Walden Pond, but not on the same motivational basis.  Instead, he articulately defends his decision to attempt self-sufficiency on the grounds that he’s concerned pootling along as normal is going to fuck his shit up when the bottom falls out of society, as it were.

Ali and I had a conversation a few years ago about a post-consumer, post-apocalyptic storyline that I always kind of pushed away because I had problems imagining the kind of person that would basically pre-empt the collapse and set up on their own.  I couldn’t see it without some sort of fundamentalist nutcase sidling into view.  Maybe I’ll go back and dust off the premise one of these days.  You know, before computers stop working and we can no longer travel.

And finally, for Lisa: BABY KNITTING THAT LOOKS LIKE LINK OMG OMG

Well, yeast never fell off a damn cliff now, did it?

Get well soon, Ali.  Hopefully an evening spent pressing frozen peas to your derriere has improved the situation.*

Speaking of yeast, I saw this article over at Wired about extracting yeast from amber and using it to make beer.  It quite appeals to me that such a disgusting amount of scientific endeavour went into producing it, although to be honest it kind of boggles the mind that a whole company was pitched off of the idea that prehistoric bacteria might have therapeutic value.  I suppose there have been worse pitches, but still…

*My brother fell off a climb last night, landed on his bum.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-08/ff_primordial_yeast

The faltering rise of eBooks.

Let’s ignore for a moment that the Kindle, Amazon’s wonder-engine that will push the world forward into the future of publishing is not available outside of the US.  Let’s ignore, also, that the current level of control Amazon hold over content distribution on the Kindle is a God-damned joke.

Back in March, I got a Sony PRS-505 eBook reader for Lisa, for her birthday.  I had high hopes for the format.  I still do.

But really, who pays £200 for a reader when there’s no financial incentive to purchase content for it?

Fair enough, I didn’t expect publishers to want to pass on the savings immediately, I mean, the financial sector isn’t keen on it, so why should an industry with a notorious margin of 4-5%?  But when eBook content is more expensive than the same title in hardback, it kind of takes the biscuit.

For the record, I doubt eBooks will ever replace print as a medium.  Not entirely.  But until we see some real incentives to start the ball rolling on getting eBooks into the mainstream consciousness, they will remain distinctly on the fringe of things.

Sadly, Amazon and Sony’s DRM-heavy content models do nothing but push the ball back up the hill a bit.  Now the Associated Press have started pitching a DRM format for news reports, replete with nonsensical diagrams that explain in no real manner how this micropayment/subscription-based system with lo-jack tracking of your reading habits is different from any other, previous system, or that it will work at all.  It’s snake oil, essentially.  Those naughty news pirates won’t stealz your intarwebs, it cries.  People smarter than me are already picking it apart, and mocking it for the sham it is.

What. The…

OK, so you see a guy riding on a bike with his son in a child seat on the back.  The road is maybe a little too busy for that, you think, so what do you do?

Pull a gun and shoot him in the head, of course. (found via boingboing.net)

I love how real life perpetually conspires to make things like CSI seem plausible and understated.

Anyway, I just finished reading Isabel Allende’s Zorro.  It’s really entertaining, colourful writing.  I was kind of wary at first because, once translated from the Spanish, the writing is really heavy with bold, declarative sentences that feel a little too strong.  However, I soon got used to it and was really won over by the strong thread of humour that runs through the entire piece, preventing it from getting bogged down by the descriptive passages.  To give an example, when introducing Juliana and Isabel, there’s a page of description of the former that would feel clunky and overly emphatic on its own.  However, Allende follows it with an equal but contrary description of the flaws of the latter.  It’s funny and brilliantly constructed and totally at odds with my normal expectation of how the best character portraits are put together.

The lesson?  Read more, shoot people in the head…less.

Meanwhile, our fridge/freezer has died and the letting agents who are contractually bound to replace it are playing at being incommunicado.  Oh the joy of it!

Even if you don’t play Team Fortress 2…

The Valve blog is still hilarious.

Here is yesterday’s post, written by the Soldier.

I don’t have to know what the hell twitters and texting and body sprays are to understand that they’re not the sort of thing men should be engaged in. Like conversations, or painting things that aren’t a house.

Genius.

If you’re not sure who the Soldier is, this should help (NSFW warning for cartoon violence and hilarity).

All the stuff.

Long post today, I think.

First off, my brother has a website now.  He takes pictures and stuff and is a lot like me, but more acerbic.  Also, he sometimes forgets how to use apostrophes!  Still he’s funny and acidic and generally made up of distilled cleverness, so worth a look if you don’t know him.

He mentioned the Morgan Stanley teen memo furore the other day.  Sadly, all comment I might have passed on it had already been elegantly gazumped by a commenter on the Guardian’s website, who just cut and pasted part of the screenplay from A Hard Day’s Night (1964) into the text submission box.  More specifically, the part where George Harrison is mistaken for a male model.

Continue reading “All the stuff.”