Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
Specifically to guard against this sort of thing, I set a posting trigger for myself several months ago - a specific criterion that requires me to post when it's met. And, a few days ago, met it was, so here I am back on the blogosphere. Maybe it'll be easier to keep posting than it was to start posting again.
Nothing fancy, though. To keep me from having to actually formulate a cohesive entry, I'll once again lean on the timeless blogger's crutch of cute little bullet points. And away we go -
- As far as actual news goes, the big event in my life of late is a move back to my old high school stomping grounds. I live not quite two blocks from my old high school home now - my (somewhat lame) wishes that I lived closer to John so as not to have to walk so far have been granted, sort of. If he hadn't moved away I'd lived quite a bit closer than I used to. It's odd; certainly a different sort of social setting. It's nice to be closer to work and fun to be living with a bunch of camp people (all 6 of us (7, if you count Jesse)) are EWALU alums), but I've always handled change poorly, so it's been sort of a weird transition. Mayhap I'll blog in more detail about it someday.
My social circle has seen a fair amount of job-getting and child-having of late, too, but I'll not take away peoples' chances to share their own news (Matt and Jesse, in particular, certainly have blog-worthy events to share from the last month or so. Updates, gentlemen! You can't let a blog languish un-updated for weeks at a time; that's all sorts of uncool).
- As you may have noticed, I've admitted defeat in the face of spam commenters (what an odd thing spam is. I assume it's very cheap to send out spam e-mail but it can't be free and I have trouble imagining that there's any sort of return for the spammer - surely no one actually buys the products they claim to be selling. So it makes no financial sense. I'm forced to assume, then, that spam exists merely to annoy. Which is a sad thought, but at least if it's true then the spammers of the world are succeeding brilliantly; that's nice for them) and activated the annoying word-verification dealie for comments. Sorry about that - those drive me nuts, too, but I was deleting 4 or 5 spam comments a day. It should be noted that this in no way weakens my position when criticizing Jess for activating the annoying word-verification dealie on her blog.
- A couple of link-ish notes to bring to your attention, too - there's a new blog linked. I found Sean Meade's blog a couple of weeks ago and have enjoyed reading through his archives. Sean's a fellow Iowa City West/Wartburg man, and from what I can gather he rarely disappoints his readers with long periods of e-silence.
Also worth noting is that Paul Cantrell has been posting some new audio clips recently. For those of you who haven't checked out his work yet or who got out of the habit during his summer sabbatical, hie thee to In The Hands and listen. It's phenomenal stuff; I stand by my earlier comparison of Paul to Vladmir Horowitz in the level of understanding he conveys in his playing. Pure Internet gold.
- Here's a question I pose to those of you familiar with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy oeuvre: when you read that the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything was "what do you get when you multiply six by nine?" did you notice how that product isn't actually 42? I don't ask that question to be snarky - I'd always assumed that was an intentional bit put in by Douglas Adams, either to illustrate that the question-finding program had been flawed by the Golgafrinchans pushing out the native Earthlings or to poke fun at technology or possibly just to make a silly joke or - my personal favorite explanation - assign a mathematical untruth to the fundamental question of the universe and thus illustrate how fundamentally weird and messed-up the universe is. Whatever the reason, it never occurred to me that it was purely a throw-away bit.
But then I was sitting around last week after a weekly poker game that I participate in, talking to a couple of the other players. One of them's a pastor-in-training and he commented that wearing clerical garb tends to inspire people to try to ask supremely profound questions, presumably to impress the garb-wearer. "I get a lot of 'What's the meaning of life?' sorts of questions," he said. "I usually tell 'em 42."
We all laughed appreciatively (more, I suspect, to make sure people knew we caught the allusion than because it was actually all that funny - I find people do that sort of thing a lot), and I offered the fun fact that six times nine does indeed equal 42 in base-13. I got two blank stares, so I tried to explain the math a little more, but their confusion stemmed from where I was getting "six times nine" in the first place.
Apparently they'd both read Arthur's Scrabblic question as "what do you get when you multiply six times seven?" I concede that's more mathematically logical, but it's not nearly as clever and it's not what Douglas Adams wrote - a position I spent the next several minutes trying to defend. They were both sure the book had said 6x7, and I began to think that maybe I was the one who'd misread (it occurred to me too late that that since we'd been playing poker at Greg's I could have gotten to a copy of the books in about three strides. Or gone and woken up Greg and demanded that he weigh in on the argument in about ten). It was also suggested that perhaps Adams had simply made a math error.
It's obviously no sort of big deal in any cosmic sense, but if those of you who've read the HHGG books would weigh in as to whether you noticed that the math didn't work out and - if so - what you thought Adams was trying to say thereby I'd appreciate it.
- I find I almost enjoy the baseball off-season more than the on-season. I've spent a lot of time recently following the general managers' chess game as they trade players and activate players and offer players immense amounts of money. If only there was also some baseball to watch, the off-season would be ideal. If I was the sort of blogger who found myself being frustrated because I wanted to post more often I'd start a baseball blog. This year, of course, the Cubs are a mortal lock for the World Series championship.
- This year, I'm pleased to report, Iowa seems to have finally remembered what December is supposed to be like. Here's to three more months of snow and sub-zero temperatures! And, hopefully, to our landlord replacing our furnace with one that's not as inefficient as a furnace is legally allowed to be!
Just in case I fall back into non-posting for another couple of months I'll say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's now. Also happy birthday to my two holiday-birthdayed readers. If you're not doing anything Friday, stop by the Java Creek Cafe in Cedar Rapids for a Christmas Soul Hug concert. You know you like you some Christmas music.
I'm at work, so I don't have my Adams biographies handy (yes, I have two), but my recollection is that the math was wrong because the Golgafrinchans had upset the program (that's the "plot" explanation); it was also wrong because, hey, ironic that the Question everyone's been looking for is permanently out of reach. It was later stated that the Question and Answer cannot both be known about the same Universe. I think Prak said that in Life, the Universe and Everything.
Adams was bemused by people's attempts to find meaning in the base-13 equation, apparently some going so far as to find a coded message in the text of the question, but he insisted, "Even I don't make jokes in base-13."
Also, it's a girl.
I enjoy Mr. Adams' writing. I had tea with Doug (I used to call him Doug when he was alive). It was lengthy. It was like a long dark tea time of the soul. I miss that guy.
John - I find that sort of disappointing, really. I liked the idea that the Question didn't make sense because the Universe didn't (doesn't) make sense. Permanently out of reach is good, too, though, I guess.
Today's word is:
Etymology: Latin curtus shortened and Middle English Crist, from Old English, from Latin Christus, from Greek Christos, literally, anointed, from chriein
Christ meaning: an ideal type of humanity
Krtcr was often used as a holidy greeting for those one didn't care for which meant literally may your ideal type of humanity be short.
Obviously you're right that a longer word is more resistant to hacking, but it seems like anything would defeat the blog spammers - I assume they try to post and never even know whether they've succeeded. I also have no idea why the text image needs to be in a weird psychedelic font; that seems completely useless. Any of the computer science knowledgeable-y readers out there care to chime in? I'd be curious to understand this more.
Mark - "A Day in the Life" indeed. Kudos be unto you!
In general, the blog spammers don't care much about whether they can spam to any given blog, but once a defense technique becomes standard they'll put some serious effort into beating it; they notice when they start losing money...