Let's rid of spam!

Tuesday 30 March 2010, 14:27

Well, the comment spammers sure showed up fast. I have enabled "spam-quiz" authentication, much like what worked well on the old site: you have to enter "bonobo" in the anti-spam field to post a comment, and there's an explanation saying so right next to it. This software also supports what it calls hash-cash, which involves a piece of obfuscated Javascript that does a calculation on the client side to prove that the user is running some approximation of a real Web browser instead of a robot. I'd prefer to avoid that, though, because both obfuscated Javascript and Javascript in general are instruments of the Devil.

Madonna, Bourdin, and Robin

Thursday 1 April 2010, 08:44

In May 2004, pop star Madonna paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit with the estate of French erotic photographer Guy Bourdin. The Smoking Gun archived some court papers and a side-by-side comparison of stills from Madonna and Bourdin videos. The similarities are pretty significant; it looks like plagiarism.

The interesting part from my point of view is that Madonna seems to have been the victim of similar plagiarism herself in the matter of the 90-second opening sequence to the 2002 anime series Witch Hunter Robin. The Livejournal posting that everybody linked to when this story first came out, lost its image hosting after a few years and by now has also become locked. But I archived the images, and you can see them below. These are stills from the opening of WHR, stacked up next to stills from a Madonna video called "Take a bow." They're about as close as those other Madonna screenshots were to the Bourdin photos, so if that situation was plagiarism, this one should be as well. To my knowledge, however, there's been no court case here, and it's been enough years now that there probably never will be one.

Edited to clarify: as far as I know, there's been no suggestion that the video "Take a bow" in particular was one of the ones involved in the Madonna/Bourdin case. The claim is not that the WHR opening came from Bourdin by way of Madonna, but only that Madonna's general body of work seems to have suffered the same fate as Bourdin's. The stills at the Smoking Gun link, from videos in the Madonna/Bourdin case, are from other videos and don't much resemble images from WHR.

A modest proposal

Wednesday 6 January 2010, 21:24

I should be allowed to set up a hidden camera at the doorstep of the Dundas West subway station in Toronto, which is across the street from the local Catholic school, and take photos up the skirts of teenage girls (or anybody else wearing a skirt) as they enter and leave the building.

How much does a sheet of paper weigh?

Monday 29 March 2010, 15:25

A standard sheet of laser-printer paper of the usual thickness, either US "letter" size or international "A4" size, weighs 4.5 grams. That means 100 sheets weighs almost exactly one pound.

Letter names

Wednesday 31 March 2010, 15:20

(First posted in January 2003) From time to time I want spellings for the names of the letters in the Latin alphabet. Some, like "aitch" are fairly well known; others aren't. These are not standardized, and if you look around the Web you can find multiple choices for some of them. Often, the spellings people list aren't really suitable because, for instance, they may consist of just using the letter itself (no good if the point is to disambiguate between letters that look similar). Here's a list I've compiled from several sources that meets my needs and might be helpful to you, too.

Eight knights of the dragon

Tuesday 30 March 2010, 14:30

0 (the dragon)

And once upon a time, the villagers used to say, there was a dragon that lived at the bottom of that cave, yes the one over there.  It would steal maidens.  Of course, those days are long gone now, they said.  But things like dragons don't go away just because people stop believing, and people don't stop believing just because things like dragons have gone away.

And upon any time that a young woman would be lost, killed, or harmed in any way, the old folks would nod their heads and say wise words about the nature of dragons, and the young boys would hunt and kill the little brown lizards that hid in rock walls in that part of the country, as if those harmless creatures were to blame for looking like dragons.  It was easier than entering the cave to face the supposed dragon directly.

This is it

Monday 29 March 2010, 12:28

I've gone ahead and made the switch to PivotX. The old site remains more or less up, at the "Old site" link in the left-hand bar, but things will steadily disappear from there and appear here. Reasons behind the switch are discussed at length in this posting.

I created a section for Japanese-language entries because the software made it easy to do that, but don't get your hopes up. After a year of lessons my Japanese is still pretty rudimentary. Some day, though, I'd like to write and post entries in that section.

PivotX annoyances

Sunday 28 March 2010, 22:24

I am typing this into a local installation of PivotX on my home machine. My plan is that if I can get it whipped into acceptable shape, I will upload this installation to the Web server and have it replace my existing Web site. At this point I think it's likely I will go through with that; however, there are some annoyances I'd like to mention.

On having a personal Web site

Sunday 28 March 2010, 22:04

Quick! Imagine a ham radio operator!