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January 2005 Archives

January 1, 2005

Keep the generosity competition going

Yesterday, I was about to post an irritated message, chiding a commenter on another blog for making a misleading comparison between the amount of money the US government had set apart ($35 million at the time) to help victims of the Asian Tsunami, and the much smaller amount pledged by "The EU". The comparison was misleading, I thought, because the EU as an entity is not comparable to the US government: it does not tax citizens directly, does not have anything like the US federal government's budget, and to make the comparison between the US and the EU, you have to look at contributions from the EU member states - that of the Netherlands alone exceeded the US's $35 million.
To do a proper job at fact-checking, I would have had to spend about an hour on New Years' Eve looking up the figures I could find on the internet, which I wasn't looking forward to doing. Then President Bush, bless him, rendered the whole issue moot by making a new pledge of $ 350 million, making the US the most generous donor... until Japan pledged $ 500 million this morning.
This is one pissing contest I would hope nations continue for some time. Thank you, Jan Egeland, for provoking it by calling the rich Western Nations stingy and challenging them to prove the opposite!
That same commenter (who has also posted here, so he'll read this) also pointed out, more correctly, that it's the American way to let the citizens themselves do the giving instead of raising taxes for emergency relief. Without going into the political dimension of that, let's hope that American citizens also choose to outdo their government in generosity, and likewise that EU member nations' citizens do the same. I have donated, have you? (link to Dutch coalition of aid organisations)
It's probably a bit tacky and tasteless of me to highlight this international competitive aspect of the rounds of donations. But to a certain extent, donations from governments are all about looking good, and buying influence. Realpolitik will creep into any country's motivation for giving. We might as well admit it. And if the desire to prove that country X is the best, the nicest and the most generous makes country X do more to help, then I'm all for provoking that desire.
After all, it would be even more tacky and tasteless if someone got the idea of raising money through a charity single. Oh, wait.

Tip for users of Opera's email client

If you've been using M2, the email client coming with Opera, for a while, you may find that the "learning" spam filter's performance, after initially improving, starts trending downhill, leaving more spam messages unfiltered. I was puzzled by that, but I think I've found the cause: backdated spam.

Continue reading "Tip for users of Opera's email client" »

January 3, 2005

FireFtp, Firefox, Opera, PNGout

I've been tinkering with the home computer setup a bit:
I have installed FireFTP, a Firefox extention providing an FTP client. As you may remember, I've been on a quest for a decent linux ftp client. My criteria for "decent" are modest: it should deliver the same productivity benefit compared to the linux command line ftp client as WSFTP LE does compared to the Windows command line ftp client. That shouldn't be too hard, one would think. On the one hand, the linux CLFTP is very good indeed, but on the other hand, WSFTP LE is 6 years old and was deliberately crippled compared to for-pay versions of WSFTP. But the clients that people have recommended so far all fell way, way short of that. GFTP has so far come closest, but it doesn't do batch renames or batch deletions from the server, and doesn't understand the meaning of "one directory up". I hear that FireFTP isn't very good, but it doesn't have to be to be better than what I have. I'll just use it a few times in real sessions and see what comes up.
I have also installed a whole lot of other Firefox extentions that seemed neat. We'll see how useful they are.
A few days ago, I installed the linux port of PNGout at home. What I want to do with it is re-compress all old Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comics that primarily reside on my home machine's disks. A quick test showed that I could reduce the file size by 8 percent, from a size that was itself reduced by 8-10 percent back when I converted the earliest files from gif to PNG. However, PNGout lacks a batch mode, and I'm buggered if I'm going to convert them one at a time. So I will have to beg, borrow or steal a shell script for converting them in a single batch. It's not unthinkable that this is something I could do myself, with a guide to the shell's syntax by my side, but I'd really rather not, because I'm unfamiliar with the syntax, abilities and limitations of Unix shells. It would take me a lot of time and have me pull out hair that I really can't afford to miss these days. (Update: this should do the trick although altering it to do exactly what I want could turn out to be tricky.)

(What follows is probably of less interest to ROCR readers or even regular Waffle-ites, but I'm including it as a memo to self, so that I won't forget what I've done in a few months' time)

Continue reading "FireFtp, Firefox, Opera, PNGout" »

Scotty goes to Benidorm

A hilarious post on A Fistful of Euros in which Scott Martens recounts his experiences at a last-minute vacation in, of all places, Benidorm:


Starting with English breakfasts (eggs, bacon, sausage, sliced white bread toast, cooked tomatos and baked beans) and continuing with menus that prominently display the ever-present availability of fish and chips or bangers and mash, the cuisine of Benidorm is more English than any I have ever actually seen in England. In most of the world, serving English food is not something one brags about.

Continue reading "Scotty goes to Benidorm" »

January 4, 2005

Eighteenth century intellectual property rollback

Prof. De Long has posted a very readable and interesting book excerpt about an epic battle between 18th-century booksellers over perpetual copyright. Read it if that sort of thing interests you.

ACLU and Christianity

Two more to pass on without comment: Ed Brayton writes about ACLU defending religious liberty and Christians working within ACLU.

Robert Johnson=Britney Spears

While I'm in "Heh indeed, read the whole thing" mode, go and read this post about Delta Blues, Robert Johnson and the problem of 'golden ages' from Publius. It's better than his Nirvana article, I promise.

An answer I needed to a question I had

Professor Juan Cole on why partitioning Iraq along ethnic lines would be bad. Summary: It's not as simple as it looks on the map.

Punk rock karaoke

This is how I spent part of New Years' Eve: enjoying the local punk rock/heavy metal karaoke at Vera. I didn't have a go myself because by the time I arrived all the songs I could sing were already taken, but I had fun watching mild mannered Vera staff belt out songs like "The Ace of Spades" at the top of their lungs. The band themselves were pretty good, and could adapt well to the sometimes unpredictable singers.
Check out two minutes of fame (WMV, 8 Mb), with singers they filmed earlier at a Vera staff party. The first person looks vaguely like Barbara Stok... the shirtless guy is Ricky the Fearless Cartooneer.
Searching for their website on Google, I found that there were quite a few punk rock karaoke bands already, and Barbara told me this band had admitted to stealing the idea from a New York band, possibly this one. I think these Californians got the ball rolling though.

January 5, 2005

Comments, re-re-redux

Note to everyone: on substantial posts, I set the comments to open. Keeping most postings comment-free is the only way to prevent this weblog from becoming a Phentermine clearinghouse, but it makes me feel a twinge of guilt whenever I post. Blogs should allow people to comment. So whenever I do anything more than post an ultra-brief summary and link, I manually open the comments. I will be more vigilant about closing them after a short time, say, after the post falls off the front page.
Also, I've discovered the "Allow Comments: None" setting, which differs from the "Allow Comments: Closed" setting in that it doesn't show a link to nonexistent comments at the bottom of my posts. So that will become the default from now on. But I will manually open many of my posts.

January 7, 2005

So Mick would have been Nelly Furtado?

Another one about the blues, from Tom Popular, who points out, among other things:


What does it actually mean to say that a sharecropper in Alabama and a public schoolboy in Surrey are playing this same type of music? You can reach for the utopian answer, of course - music is music, the great unifier. But even then a sly hierarchy creeps in: the sharecropper is not after all being assessed on how much they remind one of the schoolboy.

A debate challenge from Von

Von of Obsidian Wings has a challenge to anyone willing to identify as a pro-torture blogger:

Resolved: As a matter of U.S. policy, torture should be used by the U.S. and its allies in fighting the war on terror.

If you are (1) a blogger, (2) support the foregoing position, and (3) you're up for a bit of fun, e-mail Obsidian Wings with your contact information (the e-mail is at the top of the front page).

I'll take the contrary position -- i.e., torture is not a wise and proper tool -- and debate the first serious respondent. For simplicity and my own sanity, I will only debate one person, and therefore will not respond to requests for debate via methods other than an e-mail. The debate will proceed, one post alternating and tracking the other, until one of us gets horribly bored. At which point it will end.

Incidentally, yours truly will be the sole judge as to who is "serious" and who is not. If I reject your challenge, I will explain why in an e-mail.

Before you send that e-mail, however, realize what this debate is not about:

1. It's not about the Geneva Convention, the Gonzales memoranda, or associated technicalities or legalisms.... This is a debate about policy; about what kind of country us well-informed citizens want.

2. It's also not about prosecuting soldiers on the battlefield, the ticking time bomb scenario, or what you saw last night on 24. If your position is going to be that torture may be defensible if minds are fogged by war, or if there's a terrorist ready to explode a nuclear bomb in thirty minutes and the guy you've just captured knows where it is and how to defuse it -- this is going to be a pretty boring debate because I'm going to largely agree with you. To paraphrase another, I can twist the utility knob and come up with a hypothetical in which most of us would enthusiastically advocate the slow torture and death of a seven year old kid. .... Rather, this is a debate about the wisdom of using torture as official policy where there is no apparent necessity.

3. Do not expect the debate to fall into the usual liberal v. conservative dog-and-pony show. ...Indeed, I'm relatively center-right; don't be surprised if, at the end of the day, you find yourself pretty far to left of me -- with other noted lefty torturers, such as Castro, Stalin, etc. [But I should keep the rest of my powder dry, no?]

Could turn out interesting...

Opera 8 beta

I'm really liking the new beta versions of Opera, even though installing them meant hammering my interface into a familiar shape for me yet again. But it's worth it because Gmail now works, those appalling error dialogs are gone and there are some other changes that made me go "ooh" even though I can't remember them right now. Opera 7 registrations also still work, so I won't even have to look at their advertisements. Not that those are a huge problem. Try it out if the web is your bread and butter, or read a review at Webgraphics.
I'm also liking Opera Watch which has Opera-related news and general stuff about web browsers. It's been added to the blogroll.

January 9, 2005

Tentacles and transgendering in the forum.

Let's hope that the latest burst of forum activity won't be as short-lived as the last one. I like it when readers get involved in the comic by discussing it. Especially when it allows me to drop ominous hints about the future.
Thread about Kel's tentacled alternate shape.
Thread about Windows keyboard layouts (as a result of a quote-closing mistake I made) and transgendering, with one reader trying to push the discussion back towards tentacles.

Wardrobe malfunction

Found via the Keenspace forums:
Mickey Rooney's backside not fit to show during the Superbowl.

Fox has rejected a Super Bowl ad featuring a Mickey Rooney wardrobe malfunction.

In the spot for Airborne, a natural cold remedy, the 84-year-old star of such 1940s staples as National Velvet and the Andy Hardy films is in a sauna when someone behind him coughs. He overreacts, jumps up, screams and heads for the door. In his rush, his towel drops, baring his buns for about two seconds.

"Our standards department reviewed the ad and it was deemed inappropriate for broadcast," says Lou d'Ermilio, spokesman for Fox Sports.


I suppose it's just as well that this ad won't be shown, because it would set a bad example for America. Sauna towels are for sitting on, not for wrapping around you. You want the sweat to flow freely to get the full benefit of the sauna in the first place. Swimsuits are a big no-no for the same reason. In a culture where people understood these things, an ad like that would not have been made in the first place.

Email inavailability

Despammed.com, my email forwarder, has been a bit spotty lately. Sending mail to reinder@despammed.com may not work, and I'm not going to publish any other email address online. If you must reach me, comment below, or use the message board which is open to unregistered users (but if you're registered, you can send me a private message).

Promotion, part 1a

As often, I'm a little behind on posting substantial blog items. The good news here is that I'm getting back on track with my regular comics work, which means that in a rare departure from regular procedure, I've been able to do the higher-priority stuff before the lower. Still, I owe you a follow-up to Promotion, part 1 in which I want to discuss approaches to promoting a comic (specifially, mine. I'm selfish like that) outside the regular webcomics readership. I'm also behind on typing up a long post about my plans for the new year, which I wrote in my notebooks before leaving for England in late December. I'll get to that when I am really secure about my ROCR buffer and the ongoing work on Floor. I have big aims, but before world domination, the lawn needs sweeping, and the dishes need feeding.
There's one part of my plans that I do need to start carrying out, and I'll need help from you, the readers of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan (those handful of you who read the blog but not the comic can ignore this). I need to increase the comic's reader base some ten- or twenty-fold over the year. To get started, I want to ask you to comment on the comic on the two listing services I signed up with recently, The Webcomic List and OnlineComics.net (links go to my profile pages on either site), and maybe add ROCR to your favorites. You'll need to sign up with Onlinecomics.net yourselves (don't know about The Webcomic List), but if you read a lot of webcomics, both sites are well worth registering with to keep track of your favourite comics' updates and discover new ones.

Continue reading "Promotion, part 1a" »

January 10, 2005

Opera vs. Firefox as brands

Via Opera Watch: Lawrence Eng compares the marketing and branding of Opera and Firefox and is unimpressed with Opera's image-building and the reasons Opera Software offers for users to pay for the software.


Surf ad-free': Essentially, this is like saying, "you are a hostage to our ads unless you pay up".
'Free support': Just call it premium support. By paying, it's obviously not free.
'USD 15 upgrade': Essentially, "Pay now so you can pay less later"

I do not find these reasons convincing, and they did not really play a big factor in my decision to buy Opera....

Opera fans typically explain that they paid because Opera is simply a better product. I happen to agree with them, but it's a highly debatable point, and one that is not compelling to internet users not used to paying for a web browser, and who have a free alternative (Firefox) that is possibly as good or better than Opera, and seems to be getting better all the time. Instead of selling Opera as a "better product", I think it needs to be sold as a "different kind of product", designed by a "different kind of company".

Even die-hard Firefox supporters tend to agree that many of Firefox's most popular features were invented or popularized by Opera (i.e. tabbed browsing and mouse gestures). Although Firefox advocates tend to underplay the importance of it, Opera can make a strong claim that it's the most innovative force in web browser development today.

I agree, and that's a large part of the reason why I pay for the browser (as well as installing beta versions: I see it as a downpayment on the cool features they'll come up with in the next version.

Technology enthusiasts and browser geeks: read the whole thing. Mr. Eng is not a marketing professional, and it shows: he has written a readable, common-sense piece that doesn't insult the reader's intelligence.

Call for nitpicks!

I just posted this in the Reinder Dijkhuis forum:

I'm approaching the end of The Rite of Serfdom at last. There will be about a dozen more pages after the ones I'm drawing now, in which I hope to tie up as many loose ends as possible. But I know I won't be able to catch them all, which is why I want to follow it up with a series of short epilogues. Initially, I wanted to make this a guest-run thing in which other cartoonists could come up with their own answers to readers' nitpicks, unanswered questions and dangling plot lines, but I used up my guest comic karma in December. So here's what I'll do instead: if you have a question about the 330-ish pages of The Rite of Serfdom, or if you've spotted a mistake or inconsistency that needs resolving, post it here. I will answer it in a single comic page except if it's a big enough issue to become the starting point for a new story :) Anything will go: I will have Professor Rásdondr on call to answer questions about the biology of the various species in the Gnomian Republic, and other characters will answer questions on the story's events themselves, the Contention Wars, the Republic's history and the personal backstories of the many minor characters that appeared in the story. [...] Also, while this won't be a guest event per se, people who want to turn their quibbles into a comic themselves will be very welcome to do so indeed!

If there's any response to this at all, I'll have trouble keeping track of it unless I concentrate all responses in one place, so comments to this blog post will be closed. Post any queries in the forum — you can do so without registering.

January 11, 2005

Open source beer, free as in speech.

Vores Ĝl is a Danish beer whose recipe and label art are released under a Creative Commons licence ("Attribution & Share Alike").


Why beer?

Why not? We all like beer, and as an added bonus there is a legendary quote used to explain the concept of free software (now usually referred to as open source software):


"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

We think that our open source beer is a nice twist on this quote, and we think it is interesting to see if our beer grows stronger in out in the free and perhaps one day becomes the Linux of beers. Who knows?

(via Boing Boing)

January 12, 2005

Advices, scads of advice

Neil Gaiman publishes a letter from Teresa Nielsen Hayden which lists just about all the important information for aspiring writers she knows. She knows a lot. Really a lot. Keep for future reference, or eat right here.

Lilya4ever

Yesterday my girlfriend and I decided to rent a movie, as we often do. Our tastes differ quite a lot; I am prone to liking A-movies that didn't quite make the grade: films starring James Spader, Kevin Costner or Kurt Russel immediately catch my attention and I usually enjoy them. Maybe it's because I expect very little and often get more than a little in return. I'm pretty sure a movie like 3000 Miles to Graceland flopped bigtime, at least I'm pretty sure it was instant video fare here in the Netherlands. But I enjoyed it bigtime. I even, dare I say it, enjoyed waterworld. The odd thing is I absolutely hated succesful movies like Gladiator and Spider-man 2. Go figure it out
Well, as you can imagine I have yet to find someone to share this oddity with. Fortunately I like many Arthouse films as well, though my local video-store, located at crawling distance, is poorly stocked in that department. My girlfriend has a tendency to look for the saddest stories she can find, if possible based on true stories. Not per sé my thing, but relationships are about give and take, I guess. So yesterday we rented Lilya4ever. It must be the saddest fucking movie I ever saw. As Reinder put it, it makes the collected works of Ingmar Bergman look like the Benny Hill show. It tells the story of a Russian teenager being abandoned by her mother, left to fend for herself. This eventually leads to prostitution, once she runs out of money and the heat is cut off in her dreary apartment, and there's no more food on the table. Her only friend is an even younger boy whose only joy in life is playing basketball with an empty can and sniffing glue. Soon she's shanghaied by a "lover boy," a good looking young man being nice to her and shipping her to Sweden, promising her a Better Life. In Sweden she's locked in an apartment and only let out to prostitute herself. Not trying to spoil the ending for you, this ain't no feel-good movie. It is a beautiful, well made film, though. Superbly acted, well directed.
But oh, so fucking sad.

Ernst Haeckel mushroom trip

A while ago, Adam suggested to me that I should have done Professor Rásdondr's testimoney in the style of Nineteenth-Century biologist Ernst Haeckel. At that time, I'd already finished the work on that section but in case I ever need a reference for that style again, here's a collection of Haeckel's drawings, mostly of marine invertebrates. Found on the ever-interesting Boing Boing.

Continue reading "Ernst Haeckel mushroom trip" »

January 13, 2005

Bizarre US Army Plans.

From New Scientist

The Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.

The other plans - halitosis bombs, wasp-attractors, and the like, can be read about at the link.

One must ask, though: Is having sex necessarily a blow to morale, though?

Fokke & Sukke were also at that party

It's very rare for the makers of Fokke & Sukke to tackle British events, but Übergruppenführer Harry inspired them:

Passwords

Sigh... it's happened again. I want to log in to a site I haven't been to in a while, and out of a very small pool of low-security login/password combinations, none of them work. I can find the password in an old, disused Eudora box, but I don't know the login name anymore. If I hadn't found the password in the Eudora box, I would not have been certain that the email address I'm going to ask them to send the login name to was still valid, or indeed what it might have been.
This is now the norm for most sites. Even the limited number of logins, passwords, and email addresses that I use for sites that don't affect my financial affairs or the running of my own web presences gives a number of combinations beyond my ability to remember, and the addition of random passwords like this site turned out to have given me makes it even more of a nightmare. My first thought on signing up for any new site these days is "oh, great, a new password to forget", and it usually takes me less than a week before I need the site to email the password to me. Passwords are, of course, emailed in the clear, so each email sent makes me vulnerable to identity theft.
People like Jakob Nielsen have been writing about password usability for a decade but I don't see any real progress being made in this area. (Replies mentioning Microsoft's Password initiative will be ignored. You don't think I'm going to entrust my private information to Microsoft, do you?)

January 14, 2005

Because Jeroen hasn't mentioned it yet...

Capn and Belle are now listed on Onlinecomics.net. Both comics are on extended hiatuses, but the archived installments are fine, fine bodies of work. Go read them, or if you already have, send them some luvvin' through the Onlinecomics.net commenting/favorites system! It just might help Jeroen get himself into gear again.

10, random

Just this once, I'll take part in the time-wasting. The ten first songs to come up in shuffle play on my MP3 playing software are:

1. "Not One of Us" - Peter Gabriel
2. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" (live) - AC/DC
3. "Only a Dream" - Solomon Burke
4. "End of a Holiday" - Fairport Convention
5. "The Lady Wore Black" - Queensrÿche (I wonder if that y-umlaut character works)
6. "Beat It" - Michael Jackson
7. "I Wish I Was Crazy Again" - Johnny Cash
8. "Get Rhythm" - Johnny Cash
9. "Hevnervals" - Kaizers Orkestra
10. "The Short Measure of My Lady" - Phillip Pickett and Richard Thompson.

Feel free to laugh now.

Limyaael's rants

Found by Adam, who has a way of finding these things on his search for dwarf porn or somesuch: Limyaael's rants on fantasy writing. She reads a lot of it, apparently, even though much of it irritates her. At least it inspires her to come up with long posts full of tips on how not to suck at fantasy writing.

January 15, 2005

mt-commentproxyblock

I have installed mt-commentproxyblock even though the web page didn't say whether it worked with my creaky old version of Moveable Type. So this will be your test post to see if it's broken the blog and especially comment submission. This plugin's supposed to be really good, by the way.

Update: The plugin doesn't break commenting, but it doesn't appear to do anything useful either. I had another 50 comment spams to archived posts (I still haven't finished closing the archived comments, which is a hugely time-consuming process) this morning, so another hour of my time, on Sunday morning, was stolen from me by those scum.
I've had some suggestions to help solve the problem ranging from intelligent (non-image-based) Turing tests to upgrading to MT3.*. All of these take time to implement and test so it may be a while before I get around to working on them. In the meantime, I will continue to barricade the blog. Apologies if this causes any inconvenience.
Update #2: I have also just got my first, albeit minor, wave of trackback spam. I really want to kill someone painfully with my bare hands right now.

Continue reading "mt-commentproxyblock" »

January 16, 2005

Some guy reviews books so I don't have to

Continuing in the vein of recent entries relating to fantasy literature, here's a large collection of capsule reviews by Andrew Plotkin. One to go back to occasionally after reading some of those books.

January 17, 2005

Eek!

Eek! I don't know what's wrong with today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update. It looks like it was uploaded as ASCII instead of binary - a problem that most ftp clients now automatically avoid. I may not be able to fix it from home, because I don't have the files here. If not, I'll fix it after breakfast.

Fred Julsing, RIP

Another icon from my childhood has passed away. Fred Julsing was the brilliant cartoonist whose fairytale adaptations dazzled me when they ran in Malmberg Educational magazines Jippo and Taptoe in the early 1980s. Throughout his career, Julsing was under criticism for his writing and storytelling, but working with traditional stories like The Brave Little Tailor and The Pied Piper of Hameln, he got it right, to my pre-teen eyes. His visual imagination never failed to amaze, and his clear, bright lines and unusual figure designs, not to mention costume designs unlike any I've seen anywhere else, will stay with me until my dying day.

biography in Dutch with more pictures than the English-language version.
Julsing's new age art from the 1990s-2004.

January 18, 2005

Go tell'em, Gianna!

At last, someone fights back against the Anti-Fun League. And what do you know, she's from ole Yoorp!


Athens chief fumes at US lewdness claims

By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS (Reuters) - A clutch of complaints by U.S. viewers that the Athens Olympics opening ceremony featured lewd nudity has incensed the Games chief, who warned American regulators to back off from policing ancient Greek culture.

Gianna Angelopoulos warned the Federal Communications Commission watchdog, sensitive after a deluge of outrage when singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl game, not to punish NBC television that aired the Games.

Male nudity, a woman's breast and simulated sex were the subjects of shrill complaints about the opening ceremony on August 13 which were posted by the FCC on its Web site.

"Far from being indecent, the opening ceremonies were beautiful, enlightening, uplifting and enjoyable," Angelopoulos wrote in a weekend commentary in the Los Angeles Times titled "Since When is Greece's Culture Obscene?"

"Greece does not wish to be drawn into an American culture war. Yet that is exactly what is happening," she said.

Complaints focused on a parade of actors portraying naked statues. Among them were the Satyr and the nude Kouros male statues, both emblems of ancient Greece's golden age.

[...]

"We also showed a couple enjoying their love of the Greek sea and each other. And we told the history of Eros, the god of love. Turning love, yearning and desire into a deity is an important part of our contribution to civilisation," Angelopoulos said.

The FCC, whose authority only extends to U.S. media, has said it is looking into complaints, nine of which were listed on its Web site, but it was not clear whether a formal investigation would be launched.

Angelopoulos, who said the handful of U.S. complaints were dwarfed by the 3.9 billion people who watched the ceremony, had a blunt message.

"[...] it is astonishingly unwise for an agency of the U.S. government to engage in an investigation that could label a presentation of the Greek origins of civilisation as unfit for television viewing."[...]

I've got an answer

Lose the Delusion writes:

Eighteen bloody days! That is all it took before Robert Kilroy-Silk made the news in 2005.[...] Anyway, having failed in his ambitions to lead UKIP, he has been desperately trying to find other parties to lead. And, guess what? No one wants him. Faced with no other choice, he is now talking about setting up his own party.... And, truth be told, I would just love to see how that goes. Despite his claims to have been 'inundated' with calls to go it alone, you just have to wonder what losers would join a party set up by someone no one else wanted?

Why, these losers of course. They turned up in droves for Pim Fortuyn. (Note: these particular losers are the ones who made it into Parliament in the 2003 elections, after the LPF had started its spectacular implosion from its 2002 heights of having, what was it again, 26 MPs. So within a larger pool of losers, these dweebs can be thought of as winners and survivors, but that's not saying much, and the implosion still hasn't ended.

In 2002, Pim Fortuyn first became the leader of a group of Dutch celebs, rejects and retirees from other parties and career second-stringers. When they tossed him out, he started up again with a bunch of third-stringers and real estate development industry goons. And he got 26 of them into Parliament. I'm sure mr. Kilroy-Silk will have no trouble finding people of equal quality or better.
(Hat tip: Nosemonkey)

Ayaan returns

More interesting news from Dutch politics: Ayaan Hirsi Ali has returned to the Second Chamber, with a speech to the press in which she pledged to continue her work, insisted that she did not intend primarily to hurt the feelings of groups within the population and made the point that her work fighting for the emancipation of immigrant women is simply a continuation of her social involvement from before she became a full-time politician. She also paid tribute to filmmaker Theo van Gogh (quick summary from listening to the press conference on the radio).

Hirsi Ali appears to have lost none of her fighting spirit. Good.

January 19, 2005

Nofollow

Hallelujah.

Continue reading "Nofollow" »

Hi-tech, low-tech

I've bought two sound-related items today: a V-string for my turntable (a Phillips whose origin is lost in the mists of time) and a SB Audigy LS soundcard for my computer, because the onboard sound card is a piece of crap.
Contrary to assurances from the shop, I'm now finding that the Audigy isn't easily supported under linux, although it can be supported with a little work.
In my experiences, a little work tends to balloon into a lot of work, so before I even start, I'm opening a comments thread for tips for installing newer versions of alsa sound and resolving the recursive dependency problems that I will undoubtedly encounter. I'll update this post with my experiences and problems as they happen, below the fold.

January 21, 2005

Testing

I tried to upgrade to MT 3.14 today. The upgrade got b0rked, badly, and I had to roll it back after 5 hours of alternately waiting for answers from Movable Type's support department and implementing their suggestions. They've been very helpful, but I have nothing to show for those 5 hours of my time, which considering how the rest of the week has gone is very discouraging.

I will try again when I have another few hours of uninterrupted idle time. This may not be soon. Until the upgrade is done, comments for new posts will continue to be set to "None" unless I have a good reason to allow them for any post. Not that I expect to put up many new posts either, because I'm a bit fed up with blogging for the time being.

Now let's post this and see if the system is still working as it should.

"Porcus in sterco"

My big fear was that people would read the line "Felix velut porcus in sterco" in today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic and yell at me for getting the Latin wrong. Now, though, it looks more likely that most readers simply skim over it because they don't understand it. Not even well enough to make a guess at it, I mean.
Answers below the cut.

Continue reading ""Porcus in sterco"" »

January 22, 2005

Xtended Problems

I'm not much of a techy. The only time I will try to change settings on my computer is when things go horribly wrong. And recently it did: I don't have a separate dvd-player, so I watch them on my laptop. Suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, some dvd's were giving Powerdvd trouble: error code f4d41436: this copy protected disk can not be played when the tv out function is enabled. *wtf* I thought, I just rented this goddamn dvd from the video store to watch it on my laptop. There's nothing fucking illegal about that, is there? Well someone seems to think so. I googled the error and got the solution on this very helpful forum. Seems XP Service Pack 2 added some unasked for copy protection. Thanks Bill. Fuck you very much.

January 23, 2005

Testing, testing,

Testing, again.

Almost done

Okay, the upgrade seems to be working. I hate the new look with (in Opera) impossibly narrow entry fields and no columns or buttons, but I expect that fixing the style sheet will not be too difficult.
Comments will remain switched off until I manage to import a master MT-Blacklist, which the system won't let me do for some reason. I expect that that will be difficult. If you have a tip or otherwise want to comment, send it to reinder@despammed.com.

Update: the entry page style sheet has been fixed, making that part of the site usable.
Also, I'm trying to get the RandomLine plugin to work again, so that quotes appear on top of the main index again.

January 25, 2005

Back, at last

Okay! Now the blog is finally back. I still need to improve the entry screens (after the events of the past couple of days, something has been chmodded so that I can't see images and logos inside the entry panels, and that annoys me a little bit), but the core functionality seems to be working. The bad news is that there will be no comments in the near future.
The one thing I didn't get to function was MT-Blacklist, and that's bad enough, but even if it did work, I'd be reluctant to switch comments back on. Just minutes after the last time I got the blog working, my Movable Type directory got flooded with comment spams, taking down not just the blog but the entire xepher.net host. Xepher responded by shutting down all MT intallations across the network. He has now kindly allowed me to switch everything on, except the comments, and I'm not going to press the issue right now because even if I get MT-blacklist working again, the load caused by the failed attempts at posting comment spams is enough to hose Xepher.net again.

In preparation for a day when I will want to try and switch comments on again, I have uploaded and installed MT-DBSL and Real Comment Throttle, as well as alerting Xepher to possible apache-side solutions and making a mental note of this Movable Type hack that automagically adds IP addresses to the IP ban list if they post crap that matches the blacklist — it may not be useful to me while the blacklist is kaput, but it will be useful some time.

I recommend that everyone with a Movable Type blog reads A Six Apart Guide to Fighting Comment Spam, Killing Comment Spam the Pete Way and Concerning Spam. But for now, no comments until we are sure we can deal with the consequences of crapfloods for the server. I will look at alternative community-building solutions.
And tart the blog up with avatars so it's easier to see who's posting.

Dangerous and Fluffy team approve of Piratemonkeysinc

Mary Sue Battle at HogwartsThis untitled comic by Snape-obsessed artist Gmonkey got a "Bwa ha ha" out of Einar and a delighted "Squee!" out of Timm. It made me laugh as well when I found it in the comments to a limyaael Livejournal rant. Gmonkey is no Michaelangelo, but her interpretations of the Harry Potter characters work, and her story is funny as hell. And she knows her Mary Sues:

"Sadly, I am the last of my kind." "How sad! It must be hard for you, with all the prejudice against Catpeople, despite the fact that they have really powerful magic and stuff."

Read it. It's short and sweet. Her other Snape comics are worth reading as well.

January 26, 2005

No-follow a bastard child of grep

During the blog's outage, I continued to follow the debate on whether "nofollow" was useful, harmful, neither or both. Right now, I don't feel like catching up with that. I'm sure anyone who's interested in fighting comment spam has seen most of the arguments. Except this one:


I noticed several hours ago that for some reason the trackback section of my index page was no longer marked up properly. ... The discovery was followed by a series of progressively more outlandish attempts to coax recalcitrant code into revealing itself, without success. What really hurt was how the comments, which were encased in the exact same html code structure, performed flawlessly. Then I remembered I had installed the new "nofollow" Movable Type plugin earlier in the day. I removed it, and my problems were gone
More about "nofollow" here.
.
I briefly considered being a hero and repairing the plugin, but then I saw the grep pattern that adds the "nofollow" rel attributes to comment and trackback links, and it is a monster, so I'll settle for flagging this bug. ...

One or two people in that harmful/useful debate have expressed amazement over the speed at which the concept was rushed into becoming a de facto standard by Google, Yahoo, MSN and major blog software developers. If the implementation was equally rushed, it's no surprise that the plugin is buggy.

Gallery problems

I'm not sure if this is part of the fallout from my attempts to get Movable Type upgraded, but the Reinder Dijkhuis gallery is down right now. It returns this error: "Fatal error: Cannot re-assign $this in /home/rocr/public_html/gallery/classes/Album.php on line 412".
This is a bit of a problem. I haven't upgraded either the software or the content in a long time, and it does have comment functionality. In other words, it may be as vulnerable as Movable Type (with comments enabled) is.
I've contacted the hosting site administrator and will decide what to do with the gallery in a few days.
Thanks to reader starrclaw for alerting me to this.
Update: Upgrading gallery is as fraught with problems as upgrading Movable Type. The pattern is that upgrading a program of this complexity either goes smoothly the first time, or will keep you tearing your hair out endlessly. Because the config script exited with an error the first time I ran it, I can now expect to lose more of my already quite sparse hair. And for a while there, the cascade of computer errors and human errors affected the blog as well. Long story. Probly won't bother to tell it.
Update: Okay, I'll tell a little bit. I've been futzing with file permissions to resolve the problem of why a file that was in the Gallery directory couldn't be read. This was dangerous stuff, and resulted in *everything* being set to 700, ie. owner can do everything, the rest of the world can do nothing, for a while. In the process of repairing the file permissions, I have "fixed" the final errors that showed up in relation to the blog. I'm somewhat concerned that bits are less secure than they should be, and will inform Xepher of this concern later, but at least I got a smoothly-functioning Movable Type install out of it.

More on Fred Julsing

Cartoonist Dirk-Arend has put together a tribute to Fred Julsing on his blog. It's in Dutch, but definitely worth a look, because it has many illustrations, including some of the dailies he penciled for Toonder studios. And (Squeeeee!) it has some old Jippo covers by Julsing. I have these magazines lying around somewhere, still....
Many images can be enlarged. The article also links to some very nicely done Flash presentations at the semi-official Julsing Fansite.

January 27, 2005

Talkaboutcomics going down for emergency work

I dimly recall mentioning on the blog that instead of having comments enabled, I was going to refer people to the Reinder Dijkhuis forum if they wanted to discuss posts here. I was hoping at the time that I would find a way to automate this so that Timm or Adam could point people to the Capn forum. Geir would not have a forum of his own to link to, but since he rarely posts it would be easy to accommodate discussion on any of the above anyway. He could room with me.
It'll have to wait, though, because Talkaboutcomics.com, which hosts my forum and the D&F one, is also straining under the load put on it, and is going down for more emergency maintenance in the next few hours. Could be down for one or two days as well. This could be a sign from above that God wants less talk from all of us.

I have conquered my recalcitrant Gallery installation!

sample image from my Gallery
It's taken me a lot of aggravation, but the Gallery works again! Next step: Make it work with Movable Type! Muahaha!

January 28, 2005

Another day, another nasty, unpleasant, unwelcome surprise

Sigh... I got out of bed this morning, checked the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan front page and found the comic's image file missing. I have no idea what went wrong this time, and I'm getting a bit worn down by having to solve a critical problem to one of my web sites each morning before breakfast.
The comic's back in the update queue, and will hopefully look normal in 15 minutes or so.

Virtual communities, moderation

If I had a linklog (which I will, soon), I'd simply put this in there, but until then, I'll have to comment a little bit. Teresa Nielsen Hayden discusses how online communities deal with spam, trolls and stalkers.

Continue reading "Virtual communities, moderation" »

Von on the "Pro-Torture Right"

Von of the mighty Obsidian Wings needs to fix that spelin miztaeck in the headline to his piece on The Pro-Torture Right (and let's hope that if and when he does, it doesn't break this link), but he's right to be scathing about the rabid little racists at the Blog That LGFWatch Watches:

So it goes. If you want uninformed political commentary from a guy whose reaction to the Madrid bombings was to make fun of the mourners; who presides over one of the most insular and profane commentaraits in the blogosphere; who has the fervor of the zealot without the restraining humility of actual belief; and who engages in rational thought only to the extent that he needs to rationalize the latest fact into his preset response tree -- well, by all means, read Charles Johnson.

Continue reading "Von on the "Pro-Torture Right"" »

Another step on the way to World Domination

The ROCR mirror site now runs on Movable Type. I will change the design around a bit, fix broken images and integrate Waffle into the site, but functionally, it already does what I had in mind (apart from scheduled updates, which I will configure later.
The immediate beneficial effect is that there is now an RSS feed for the comic which should include the full comic, allowing you to read it through Bloglines and such. Adding the appropriate links at the appropriate places is another item on the to-do list.

Continue reading "Another step on the way to World Domination" »

Donner to back swastika ban

Update: New news reports say that Donner is only "thinking about" a ban and will make a decision in March. That's sort of reassuring, but my concerns still stand.

Just heard on the radio: the Dutch Justice Minister Donner supports a European swastika ban (link doesn't mention Donner). How disappointing.
I'm a bit puzzled by this. Donner's no fool. He's one of the sanest, calmest persons in the Cabinet. Yet he supports nonsense like this, which would probably make the likes of Prince Harry think twice but won't stop mosque vandalisers from doing their already illegal work, and won't make any neo-nazi discover peace, love and understanding.
Donner also supported resurrecting The Netherlands' old blasphemy law, which likewise has never done a goddamned bit of good. In this case, at least, he had an excuse: the law was made by his grandfather (the Donners being a hundred-year-old political dynasty in the Netherlands) and keeping your ancestors' names alive is a worthy cause. That blew up in his face, in any case, which makes it even more bizarre that he should try and go that route again. Does he just like to ban things? Does he have a banning fetish that overwhelms his calm, rational judgment?

Continue reading "Donner to back swastika ban " »

January 30, 2005

In the future, everything will be a blog

Talk About Comics has come back online, and is now a blog. It's looking like a mighty good'un, except that for some reason I have posting privileges there so I will spoil everyone's enjoyment with my wittering.
Fearless Leader explains the change.
I'll add it to the blogroll, and maybe plug it into my blog, or plug my blog into it. Or I'll plug both into my webcomic, which is also a blog.

In the future, everything will be a blog. We will fly to our blogging jobs at McBlogblog using rocket-powered blogs strapped to our shoulders and wearing silver suits that will also have blogs on them. We will spend all our time plugging every blog we can find into every other blog we can find and then go home plugging the day's work into our Livejournals and vice versa. This is good, because we will still be able to find productive work, for a new and somewhat loose definition of productive, while robots do all the farming and building. Together, robots and blogs are the answer to all social problems.

There are still forums to discuss stuff on. They too are pretty good, and should now be a lot more stable, but they are not blogs, yet.

Update: Comixpedia has got in on this "putting stuff inside other stuff" act early. They've got the headlines from TAC on their front page before I'd even got it to show up properly in Bloglines.

No RoCR update on Monday due to motherboard problems.

The studio PC's motherboard suddenly gave up the ghost this afternoon while I was coloring. I'm sort of covered for that: I have a good computer and a usable scanner at home. But rather than make a desperate last-ditch attempt to get the comic ready on time while at the same time refamiliarising myself with The GIMP's interface and quirks (no Paint Shop Pro on the linux machine, alas), I've decided to postpone Monday's comic to give myself time to work on other, better-paid projects and to do the work properly. I'll take the PC to the shop on Monday, and depending on what they tell me, I'll either wait for it to come back or start working on the coloring at home on Tuesday. I can't guarantee a Wednesday comic on that basis either, but at least it will allow me to stay almost completely sane, and the comic won't look like it's been colored by a blind monkey when it's done (at least not more than usually). In the mean time, I'll post the odd filler or two.

The computer troubles may also interfere with Jeroen's ability to get work done, although he'll probably be able to hook the scanner to his laptop and get it done that way.

Commiserrate with our computer problems on the forum

January 31, 2005

On the Playground

Update: Broken link fixed. Thanks to reader Mithandir for pointing it out.
Damonk mentions in passing that the artist of On the Playground is only twelve years old. Wow. OTP is a funny strip. The drawing is only good for a twelve-year-old, but learning to draw takes a lot of time, and I'm sure Alan Anderson will develop just fine. The gag-writing, on the other hand, goes way beyond that level. The timing, dialogue, characters, and the gag ideas themselves just work which is hard to do at any age. And you don't get the feeling that there's a child's sense of humour at work. It has a child's perspective on the lives of younger children, but that's a good thing. Alan knows these characters well.

Count Your Sheep fans, take note of this Ship Cameo. In fact, this strip deserves special praise, because Alan has given the teacher a personality and an imagination. There are many who wouldn't bother with that and make the authority figure a faceless dullard.

So I don't have to

Digby has posted a Conservative Civility Roundup so I don't have to. There's some other stuff about the "Leninist Strategy" practiced by rightist think tanks as well; scroll to the bottom to read the trash-talking.

Share the Love: Crab Allan

Crossposted to Talk About Comics:
Share the Love: Reinder Dijkhuis loves and hates L. Frank Weber's Crab Allan

Continue reading "Share the Love: Crab Allan" »

The scum speaks

Pete Ashton pointed to an interview with a varmint comment spammer oh what the hell, "varmint" covers it quite nicely. Like Pete himself says in his linkblog, a "nailgun in the bollocks is too good for them". But the disgusting parasite is kind enough to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of the history of blog spam.

Continue reading "The scum speaks" »

Studio computer update

The studio computer is at the store. They'll call me soon enough to tell me what they think is wrong, but repairs may take a week. That's too short for me to switch gears towards coloring the material for that period in a different application on the home machine, but I will if it takes longer.
What I plan to do now: work ahead, draw the next few pages at a steady clip and then start coloring them next weekend no matter what. Until then, I will post fillers on regular update days (partly to test the automatic updates on the mirror site and partly to give you something while you're waiting). These will look like today's comic - they'll have simple, flat colors, and be single panels or illustrations.
As for Jeroen, he's annoyed that he can't get the printer working on his laptop, but he can use it to scan. He'll be able to create his work even if he can't bill clients for it.

About January 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in January 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2004 is the previous archive.

February 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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