not _that_ briar patch, please

Matt Yglesias writes a bunch of smart things most of the time, and then he says something that just makes me cringe:

You could just get together a list of every registered Democrat in the country, then take a statistically valid random sample of 1,000 or so of these people fly them all to a big hotel in Dayton (shades of Balkan diplomacy), and tell them they’re not leaving until some candidate has the support of 600 people. [emphasis added — tew]

Obviously Matt Yglesias has never been to Dayton.

floridian notes

My sojurn in Citrus County, Florida is coming to an end.

sun set over king's bay

I’ve seen about a dozen manatees, a 8-foot alligator, and more retirees than you can shake a fist at. One of my favorite things down here is the “Eternity in hell is a long time!” billboard, which never fails to inspire a silent reverie in me, in the context of a holiday visit to my parents.

I’ll be returning to Chicago tomorrow, and not a moment too soon. From a balmy to me, but chilly for Florida, 56 today, it’s supposed to drop down into the 40s here tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll have to declare martial law here, as sweater riots are certain to break out among the snowbirds.

greencards, greencards

I feel badly for Prof. DeLong, who is battling comment spam (and wrestling with Movable Type) over at his semi-daily journal. He’s currently swearing by MT-Blacklist, but I read another recent blog posting which complains that MT-Blacklist isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and can even trade your spam problem for a server load problem.

The article goes on to suggest darkly that Google hasn’t acted against comment spam because of their financial stake in Blogger, but I think this is unlikely — I think it’s just a very hard problem. Staying ahead of a motivated attacker is nearly impossible, as countless computer security experts will attest — close one hole and a motivated attacker will just find another. I looked for a reference to this idea on Bruce Schneier’s site, but I couldn’t find one.

It’s the evil-Universe doppleganger of Open Source software development: not only do we have “given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow,” but also “given enough spammers, all opportunities will be exploited.” It’s the same everywhere — a truly determined attacker, no matter how many holes you plug, will find a new hole.

It’s not enough to blacklist commenters, to bayesian sort your email, to digitally-rights-manage your music, to X-ray every bag at the airport. Motivated parties will find a new way, a new method, a new weakness to exploit. There just isn’t a long-term technical solution, as far as I can see.

I shrugged it off, back in 1994, but maybe spam is going to turn out to be a big problem.

also, it’s a piece of crap

So the American Family Association is always good for a laugh. Here’s something I came across yesterday that I found pretty risibile:

The AFA Journal had an article in November/December about the movie Shark Tale, one of those “let’s see how many celebrity voices we can cram into an animated movie” movies. You know it’s a great flick when both Ziggy Marley and Peter Falk contribute voice work.

Anyway, some relevant quotes from the AFA review, headlined ‘Something’s Swishy About Shark Tale . First the lede:

It is an axiom for many parents that, when it comes to teaching kids what they need to know, “It’s never too young to start.”

What happens when Hollywood applies the same axiom to teaching young people — even children — to accept homosexuality?

“What,” you’re saying? “This movie is about GAY FISH?” No, but it has “an undercurrent of approval for homosexuality.”

While it is difficult to prove intent when a film does not explicitly make a character “gay,” the story and dialogue demonstrate an implicit approval of homosexuality.


Of course, when it comes to kids, this is tricky stuff. The film does not come right out and say that we should all accept homosexuality. And, naturally, children should be taught to be accepting of others.

But as Plugged In’s Steven Isaac notes, “Had this movie been released 20 years ago, nobody would have been calling attention to this subject.” Two decades ago, accepting differences meant accepting a person who might have a different skin color, or be from a different ethnic background.

Such differences are immutable characteristics, however, and not sexual choices. In this respect, Shark Tale comes far too close to taking a bite out of traditional moral and spiritual beliefs.

And that’s probably swimming a bit too close to shore for many parents.

So yeah, pretty awesome, huh! I know my day is brighter!

science, journalism and america

The Poor Man hits the nail on the head:

Admittedly, you have to be a howling retard with all the intellectual curiousity God gave a Sea Monkey to think this way, but let me introduce you to your fellow human beings.

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