27 April, 2009

Gaaa! Spammed!

Sorry everyone but I'm going to turn comment moderation on for this blog. It's not that I want to moderate your comments. I'm happy to have them and I don't want to suppress any opinion at all, but spammers recently found two of my other blogs and the only way I seem to be able to keep the scumbags off my pages is to use moderation. (Also, Blogger's facilities for letting me delete spam comments don't work. Way to write software, Google!)

This means that, when you next comment, the software will treat you as a first-time commenter and will ask me to approve you. This will probably take some hours, I'm afraid, since it emails me and sometimes I don't check my email that often. Once that has happened once, you'll be treated with the respect you deserve and your comment will go up straight away.

Can I just remind everybody in the world that the only way to beat spammers in the long run is for nobody, ever, to reply to a spam email or click on a spam link. They only make money because there are enough idiots out there buying stuff off them and encouraging this disgusting practice.

Come the revolution, spammers will be lined up against a wall and shot (right after the politicians, business managers, and lawyers.)

25 April, 2009

Amazon and the Creeps to Whom it Panders

Amazon's recent 'glitch', which de-ranked a whole load of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgener books, along with others of an explicitly sexual nature (including Lady Chatterley's Lover!) was another dismal consequence of the way certain people think - or would prefer not to have to think. Religious and right-wing types don't like sex. Some think their magic god creatures have told them not to like sex (unless sanctioned by a man in a dress who likes abusing small children). Others just have weird hang-ups about it. Some spend their days trying to stop anybody doing sex, seeing sex, or reading about sex. It is for these sad souls that Amazon has an 'adult' field in its book description database - so that it can, if it chooses, hide these books from our view. It is for these same sad souls that the Australian govenment is about to instigate a Web censorship scheme that will give it the power to hide anything it deems 'adult' (or, in fact, just anything it doesn't like) from the entire Australian population.

These weird sex-haters, these creepy people who shudder with distaste at any expression of human sexuality, put a huge amount of effort into pressuring governments and commercial organisations into censoring what we can read. They justify much of their perverted sex-hatred by saying it is to protect children. But they cannot explain why it is necessary to keep children in ignorance of sex. How does ignorance protect anybody from anything? Their intention, they say, is to prevent the 'corruption' of young minds. But what does 'corruption' mean here? Reading a book about gays is not literally going to rot your brain. But it might strike a chord for people who are gay and let them know that other people feel the same way, that not everyone thinks it is disgusting and depraved. This is the 'corruption' the sex-haters are afraid of, that through learning about the experiences of others, people may better understand their own nature. The sex-haters are not trying to protect people - least of all children - they are trying to protect themselves from a world that disgusts and frightens them.

Well, sorry guys, but that's the real world, and it's pretty harmless and mostly benign. You are the creepy, scary misfits, and it is you we all need protection from.

18 April, 2009

Bertie and the Echidna

Echidnas are cute but, until now, I didn't know just how cute. I saw one near the house once. It must have been young and confused because it was quite small and trying hard to be invisible when Bertie (the dog) trapped it in a corner. (For those who don't live in Australia or New Guinea, an echidna is a monotreme - an egg-laying mammal - which resembles a large, variegated, long-spined hedge-hog, or smallish, short-spined porcupine.)

I suppose Autumn must be a busy time for echidnas because Bertie seems to be finding them everywhere these days and is developing a bit of an obsession with them (although not as bad as the obsession he has with the feral cat he chased up a tree a few days ago!) Today he found the specimen below in our little orchard.

To help you make sense of this picture, this is a full-grown echidna - maybe 30cm long (that's a foot in old money) - desperately trying to bury itself in the ground. The little group of spines on the right is the echidna's tail. It's head is well buried.

It was still digging when I shot this picture - and slowly disappearing. I imagine this is a fairly good defence. It certainly had the dog flummoxed as all the poor little dimwit could get to were spines. It was pretty creepy too. It looked like some kind of evil cactus, pulsating as it slowly sank into the soil, probably digesting the last dog foolish enough to put its snout too close.

And, in honour of Bertie's first birthday (which was two days ago) here's a shot of him looking into our current echidna problem.

17 April, 2009

First Puppy: The Motion Picture

I despair. President Obama's dog now has its own series of books for children.

Why do I despair?

1. Because people refer to this pooch as 'The First Puppy'. Doesn't that just make you want to throw up? It's not the dog's fault, of course. If the Obamas had bought a tortoise we'd have books about the First Damned Tortoise instead.

2. The world is full of aspiring writers, some of them writing very good books that will never be published because the world's publishing houses just don't have the capacity to publish every good book that is written. One of the reasons they don't have the capacity is because they're publishing crappy, ghost-written celebrity memoirs, celebrity cook-books, celebrity novels, and, now, stupid celebrity dog stories!

3. The 'vast majority' of the Obama family's US$2.5 million annual income comes from the sale of his own celebrity memoir! No doubt the First Tortoise's contribution will take this income up considerably - especially when the film rights are sold.

4. People are idiotic enough to buy these books. (And, no, I'm not going to give you a link. If you really want to find them, Google on "stupid dog books for the mentally disabled".)

07 April, 2009

Heloise and Abelard

Here’s a question that has been puzzling me for many years.

Was Abelard’s cooling towards Heloise due to his castration? Was it because, chemically, he was no longer the man that had loved her so passionately? From the tone of his letters, fifteen years after the event, it sounds as though he can no longer even understand what had driven him to such passion whereas poor Heloise remembers it all too well.

Are there any medieval scholars out there who could enlighten me? I assume this is a well-known speculation and therefore that there must be well-known opinions on the matter.

This post first appeared on my writing blog but no-one there seemed to know the answer. I'm hoping WND readers will be more erudite :-)

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