Hello Whatever I Will Call It

Whilst in and about blosxom plugins, I wrote one from scratch. Back with BlogMax, every day’s entry had a title and when you compiled the data files into the blog files, it would put the daily title into the title tag of the HTML header section. I always liked this. There is a blosxom plugin that will put the entry title (they all have one) into the header if you are going directly to a single entry. That’s not what I’m after, though. I want the most recent entry’s title in the page’s title. I wrote a plugin that does that, which I am tentatively calling “titler” until something better comes along.

It’s not completely optimal yet, but it is running on this blog right now. It works by caching the story title of the first one when looking only at the unqualified page. If you are requesting a specific date or a specific category or a specific file, it does nothing. Otherwise, it inserts the cached title into a variable at head() time. In the story() function, if it is the first story seen and if the current title differs from the cached title, it rewrites the cache to the new title. This means that the first page view after a new entry will be showing the second to last title. I don’t really want to have to duplicate the whole “what is the first entry” logic, which all happens later anyway when the stories are assembled. The cost of that is one suboptimal page server per entry change. I can live with that. It remains to be seen if anyone else cares, will use this, and/or finds themselves bothered by that. After I’ve tested it a little, I’ll put it up and register it on the blosxom plugin site. Name suggestions are gratefully accepted until then.

Hello Clicktrack

I got my response from Nelson Minar about his clicktrack blosxom plugin. He says that I should take what I have, become keeper of it and go to town. He’s not going to actively maintain it, so he’d just as soon that I fork it and maintain it. I’m cool with that, so away we go. I need a new name for it. Any suggestions? The only one I can come up with is “clicktrack_plus” which ain’t that good. BTW, this blog is currently running with my version. Try looking at the RSS feed in your browser, and you’ll see the clicktrack URLs are all gone. There is also a cookie based opt out mechanism that I might put links to for testing.

Episcopals divided about gay bishop

Here is a BBC article about the rift in the Episcopal church over homosexual bishops. Elsewhere in the article, it includes this quote from the president of the US:

Responding to a question from journalists, Mr Bush said it was important to “respect each individual” but that did not mean he needed to “compromise on an issue like marriage”.

“I think we ought to codify [marriage between a man and a woman] and we’ve got lawyers looking at the best way to do that,” he said.

This is exactly what I was just talking about the other day. For people that consider marriage an issue that we do not compromise on, they should really be worked up about these stupid TV shows that marry dumb people off to other dumb people that are rich, or not really rich, or not really people, or whose faces they have never seen or whatever dumbass wrinkle the next copycats put on it. I think these all cheapen the institution of marriage and yet no one talks about it.

The Politics of Happiness

From Dennis Keim on Sff.net comes this link to an opinion piece by Enrique Penalosa, mayor of Bogota. He talks about the necessity of pedestrian activity and public open spaces.

Today we see images of the beautiful Earth taken from a spaceship, and we think of it as our planet. But in fact, there are very few places on the planet to which the public has access. Most of the land is privatized, and public spaces are very, very scarce. The fact is, upper-income people have always had access to nature and recreation. They go to country houses, golf clubs, restaurants, hunting preserves. What do the poor, especially in the Third World, have as an alternative to television? All poor people have are public spaces, so this is not a luxury. They are the minimum a democratic society can provide to begin to compensate for the inequalities that exist in society.

and later

If we in the Third World measure our success or failure as a society in terms of income, we would have to classify ourselves as losers until the end of time. Given our limited resources, we have to invent other ways to measure success, and that could be in terms of happiness. It may be in how much time children spend with their grandparents, or the ways in which we are able to enjoy our friendships, or how many times people smile during the week. A city is successful not when itŽâ€™s rich but when its people are happy. Public space is one way to lead us to a society that is not only more equal but also much happier.

That last bit is a lesson the politicians and citizens of Atlanta should learn. This is a place focused on making money, looking like you have money with nice clothes and cars (even if you go bankrupt in the process), and what feels to me like a decreasing level of satisfaction and ambient joy. People are angrier, more impatient, more confrontational. We also have nowhere to walk, and not that much public space.

Shakopee, MN

Via Electrolite comes this story about one of the soldiers recently killed in Iraq. His aunt is angry, and quoted thus:

“We have some issues with the fact that President Bush declared combat over on May 1. Combat is not over. We don’t even know who’s firing at us right now, and all of our soldiers are at great risk of being picked off as Jim was. And that’s a shame. And then President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said, ‘bring it on.’ They brought it on and now my nephew is dead.”

Of all the things that have disgusted me about the US in Iraq in the last 4 months, nothing sickens more than seeing how obviously President Bush takes the lives of our soldiers lightly. After all, they’re just a bunch of reservists who can’t even have their dad buy their way out of serving! Let’s dress up in flight suits and go for a spin. Whee! Hey, bring it on (to them). It is all very horrible. Aren’t we now approaching the point where more soldiers have died since “hostilities have ended” than died during the war itself?

Landover Baptist

From my fraternity brother Carl, a man who always had a keen eye for blasphemy, comes this link to Landover Baptist. Is it a sincerely disturbing, creepy site for a real church or a finely crafted put on? Only you can decide, by feeling the tingly touch of Jesus deep within. Or not, as the case may be.

Blosxom, Clicktrack and RSS

Today I patched my version of the clicktrack blosxom plugin to fix a minor irritation. After I put in the plugin, I got all the crap, including the lengthened URLs and the flyover JavaScript in my RSS feed. It really isn’t appropriate there, so I patched clicktrack as so (updated again 7/30, after moving the grep to the start function, so it only gets called once instead of every single story ):

First, Up in the configuration section I added this array:

@skip_flavours = ('rss', 'xml', 'rss20');


Then, I altered the story and start functions so:

Add this to the bottom of start:

    if (grep {$_ eq mt}  @skip_flavours) {
          = 1;
    }

and add this to the top of story:

    if () {
	return;	
    }

which is to say, I added in the check for whether the flavour equals any string from the @skip_flavours and if so it leaves without doing anything. Add this in and away you go, cleaner RSS. Tomorrow I’ll e-mail Nelson Minar and see if he is interested in rolling this into the main release. And, while I’m doing all this stuff and his comments talk about setting cookies to opt-out of the clicktracking, I might as well build this in now. Once you’ve added in the variable, the rest is just new ways to set it to true.

Robot Poetry

Via Lockergnome Bytes comes this link to Darwinian poetry. From the site’s description:

Ok, here’s the idea: starting with a whole bunch (specifically 1,000) randomly generated groups of words (our “poems”), we are going to subject them to a form of natural selection, killing off the “bad” ones and breeding the “good” ones with each other. If enough generations go by, and if the gene pool is rich enough, we should eventually start to see interesting poems emerge.

The cool part is that YOU are the arbiter of what constitutes “good” and “bad” poetry. Once you start, you will be presented with two poems. In all likelihood they will both be abysmal pieces of nonsensical garbage. That’s ok. All you have to do is read them both and pick the one you find more appealing, for whatever reason. Your decision might be based on a single word that you happen to like. It doesn’t matter. Just pick whichever one strikes your fancy.

Here is one of the poems I found myself voting on, as better than the alternative. In fact, I just plain like it.

into the soullessness
berry fire on toiling horses sight
sword covered bodies
guiding some
guiding nothing
stricter blood of quieting tressed
prince devoured
loved
for jest sword forgotten

soulful in eyes for
this else in of life

Virtual New Orleans

Photographer Ray Broussard has some Quicktime VR shots of New Orleans at his site. I really like how the icon on the map shows which way you are facing. These are really cool, I can almost smell the muffaletta and crawfish and sewer gas and piss and puke smells that I associate with the city. One thing I’ve always loved is being in the French Quarter during the day on weekdays. It’s much calmer and really, more fun than Tourist Times, if your agenda is anything more than macking on chicks and trying to see their boobies. Breakfast at Cafe du Monde, walk around by the river, have lunch at that muffaletta joint on Decatur Street whose name I can’t remember, have a drink at one of the zillion bars. That’s a pretty good day in my book.

Sidewalks

Kathryn Cramer writes a piece about the lack of sidewalks. My present neighborhood and much of Atlanta suffers from this. Although I have restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance, there is no continuous sidewalk to any of them, and parts of the walk require walking out in a busy road. One of the things I most liked about being in downtown Portland (OR) was the walking culture, getting out and having lunch from a cart that you walked to. I’m hoping to get some of that in Chicago and Evanston. As much of a lardass as I am, I actually enjoy to walk around. Life is better the less of it you spend behind the wheel of a car.

Dean inspires Community Service

Here’s a Mark Shields article in the Omaha World Herald (my nearest big city paper as a child in Nebraska) about how Dean supporters are getting active in community service in Iowa. Imagine that, making people’s lives a little better as a campaign strategy. Shields says:

Imagine the profound contrast between the Dean campaign volunteers feeding the hungry and comforting the lonely with the Bush pioneer/rangers corralling their $200 million swag for a primary in which the president is unopposed.

Via Blog For America

ITRU lingers on

I report this only for completeness sake, since folks are e-mailing me about it. Here is the CNET article about Intertrust prevailing over Microsoft in preliminary rulings. My take on this is that ITRU never did anything but bad by me, so I have no love for them. When Sony/Philips bought them, all my shares were converted to $4.25, so I have no fiscal stake in what they do. Chances are that they will fuck up the world of DRM just as much as they fucked up their own business, so in my heart of hearts – and as much as it chagrins me to say this – I hope MSFT wins the suit. I feel exactly the same way about this lawsuit as I do when the Yankees play the Mets. Who do I hate most, who do I most want to lose?

RSS Standard

According to CNET, Dave Winer has transferred ownership of the RSS spec to a nonprofit, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. I have looked at some of the RSS 2.0 stuff, found it horribly complicated, and retreated to 0.91 or 0.92 or whatever the hell it is that most people use. If the Berkman Center can bring some sense to this, god bless ’em.

Batman fanflick

Via BoingBoing comes a link to a Qucktime movie (43 Mb) of Batman produced by some pro filmmakers trying to gain exposure. I was a little quizzical when I saw the credits at the end. I’ve seen full length features with shorter credits. It was kind of enjoyable and does show the nascent talent of the filmmakers. Some of the moody shots of Batman in the rain were fabulous, particularly the high shots of him with the cape spread out. However, the fact that the parts with dialogue thudded while the mindless action was really cool suggests bad things. Hell, that might actually make them more employable nowadays. My favorite tiny touch was the way Batman spits after getting really socked in the face. I dunno if the actor did that instinctively or if that was directorial, but it added just enough verisimilitude to sell me the absurdity of the film. My question now is, considering the pretty high production value of the film, what was the budget on this?

Dean for America

Today we donated $50 to Howard Dean’s campaign. They have a challenge this weekend to match the same amount that Cheney is raising at some function tomorrow. That’s a pretty smart strategy, to tie these things to specific goals. Here’s what I like about Dean, he sounds as angry and outraged as I am. This is a time of severe bullshit, and I’m pissed off about it. Listen to incumbents like Lieberman, Gephardt or Kerry talk about the current administration, and they sound like they are trying to plant a big wet kiss on George Bush’s ass. Dean sounds mad about the current sad state of affairs, and isn’t afraid to go on record with it.

The other thing that makes me feel good about the Dean campaign is that if the campaign understands how to use technology and is doing smart, innovative things to come from nowhere to a contender, then I have hope that a Dean administration would do smart, innovative things.

RIAA nonsense

Here is an article about the ever growing illegal CD market, which is currently estimated at 4.6 billion. Note that the RIAA is fucking around with subpeonas for individual consumers who are file sharing over 100 songs. What exactly are they doing about this, an actual measurable loss? As far as anyone can tell, nothing.

I can sort of feel this collective anger welling up at the heavy handed tactics of the RIAA and the MPAA. I think what needs to be done is to have a boycott week somewhere this fall. Pick a week, any week, and proclaim it “Consumers are not criminals” week. A message is disseminated as widely as possible that this particular week, music consumers are urged to avoid spending any money on RIAA label music. Lists of the RIAA labels are circulated, and even more importantly, lists of the non-RIAA labels. Consumers are urged to take the same amount of money and rather than buying Avril Lavigne and Eminem to hunt for some local music, independent artists, or other good stuff that exists outside the Big Music Machine. If the organizing on the ground is good, then there could even be pickets at major record stores urging patrons to show the RIAA that you are tired of them by spending your money elsewhere for one week. For added emphasis, if the boycott could pick up some high powered musician spokespeople, that would be great. Courtney Love, David Bowie, REM and other groups that have come out as unhappy to have their fans criminalized would be good.

Personally, if every RIAA label shut its doors tomorrow, it would have little effect on me. Every CD I have bought in the last 6 months is either on an indy label or a CDR I bought directly from the musician at a show. That’s what my whole band of the day thing is about. The big labels are overplaying their hands, because they need us more than we need them.

Some more links to RIAA fun. The flash animation to the uplifting anthem, “Sue All the World”. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation comes this article on How Not To Get Sued by the RIAA for Filesharing. They also have an initiative to make filesharing legal while stll getting artists paid.

WiFi Detector

From Kensington comes this WiFi detector. What a freaking brilliant idea! Carry this little device in your pocket and check if there is a signal, before bother to unstow your laptop or PDA or whatever. If no signal, don’t bother. This smells like $25 well spent.

Spectacular Attacks

Another dystopic video thing, this one an animation/poem with some chilling soundtrack music called Spectacular Attacks. This is actually a good piece to watch in a sitting with Retina. I liked them both, visions of decaying futures and decaying people.

Retina

This is one of the better visuals I have seen for what reading cyberpunk makes me feel. It is the page for Retina by Violet Suk and Martin Koch. The short film is weird and beautiful in its own way. One of the more interesting hypotheses I have heard is that when body modifications become available electively, that it will be the urban tribalists that are the first adopters. These are people that already have their skin etched and metal inserted into their flesh for mere ornament. Imagine if that piece of metal somehow enhanced your intellect or gave you access to new resources and capabilities. So much the better.