Random quotes

Blogging is going to be light here in the next few days, because I haven’t even got near my goal of finishing 5 pages of ROCR this week, like I really ought to do every week that I’m not working on a well-paid project so I can build up a buffer for when I am. So far, I haven’t completed 3 since Friday, despite the help I got from Yonaka.

I have a lot I want to blog about, but it’ll have to wait. I will, however, stop to recommend Spike’s blog which is full of hyperbolic praise of myself and fascinating stories of mummified rats, and to ask about any good Moveable Type plugins that may be used to pull random quotes from a file and display them as the tagline to this blog. Spike’s blog has a few neat ones that I’d love to use, and I keep finding them in other places as well. I’m sure they exist, but which are any good?

Joe Meek at 75

I love reading alternate history, especially of subjects I know a little about, and The Naked Maja‘s “had he lived” account of music producer Joe Meek’s career after 1967 does a pretty good job of it.

“One day Syd came in with some funny-looking pills which he said some German mates had given him. I took one look at them and immediately flushed them down the toilet. Syd was just about ready to take a swing at me, but ever since then he’s thanked me for doing that, almost on a daily basis.”

It gets a bit silly towards the end though.

Murph’s not dead

Speaking of Murphy…

One of the great things about the Web is that you can use it to correct print reports that haven’t made it to the reader’s snail mailboxes yet. The Comics Journal writes:

Contrary to reports you may have read online and one which you may be about to read in issue #259 of The Comics Journal when it ships next week, retired Prince Valiant cartoonist John Cullen Murphy is not dead. Not even slightly. Based on erroneous reports, the News Briefs section of Newswatch in issue #259 includes a notice that an obituary for Murphy is slated to appear in issue #260. That is unlikely to happen since the cartoonist is not in fact dead. The Journal sincerely regrets the error, for which the stupid, stupid, stupid news editor, Michael Dean, is entirely responsible. A correction will appear in issue #260.

The Keenspace Curse strikes again

If you’re reading your webcomics early in the morning, you’ll find that many keenspace-hosted comics aren’t responding, and according to The Belfry’s Keenspace Tracker, the server itself is not responding. Of course, this had to happen on Online Comics Day. If Murphy’s Law applied as effectively in the physical world as on Keenspace’s servers, The Netherlands and Mexico would both be invaded by evil foreign powers today.

Still, it’s early. I’m sure the brilliant Kisai is e’en now pounding away at the servers trying to figure out what has gone wrong, and fix it. And by the time American readers fall out of their beds, things will be hunky dory again. Have faith, little server!

[Update: Keenspace came back some time in the afternoon (CET), with the comics updated, and all is well again.]

Outside-in, or inside-out.

Every once in a while, I come across a website or forum post that makes me wonder if I’m doing things the right way. Many fantasy writers make a point of more or less completely developing a fantasy world before starting on the stories themselves. They create species, a history, a technology and changes to the laws of nature before putting individual characters and plots in their world. Reading the post linked above, it’s easy for me to see why: with all that background already done, it becomes easier to come up with new story ideas, and the world itself will seem consistent and real right from the start.
I, on the other hand, have always been an indisciplined writer. I’ve always made up the worlds of Clwyd-Rhan and the Gnomian Republic up as I went along, letting them emerge from the existing story material. I have kept some records, and even have some background material that is almost, nearly, not quite ready for publication as an appendix or guide to the most recent storyline, but that is only created after the fact. The advantage, I suppose, is that it makes the story a journey of discovery for me as well of the characters. Or that’s what I tell myself along with that classic excuse “the real world made itself up as it went along too”.
Still, I’m not so sure. I’m convinced that as a result of my scattershot approach, there are major inconsistencies waiting to be revealed by a keen-eyed reader, and that the story might not have spun out of control so much if I’d planned more in advance.
There are quite a few writers reading this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Lies about famous scientists

Via The Panda’s Thumb: Behavior scientist and author BF Skinner’s daughter writes a rebuke and correction to the much-repeated canard that her father used her as a test subject.

His careless descriptions of the aircrib might have contributed to the public’s common misconception as well. He was too much the scientist and too little the self-publicist – especially hazardous when you are already a controversial figure. He used the word “apparatus” to describe the aircrib, the same word he used to refer to his experimental “Skinner” boxes for rats and pigeons.

The effect on me? Who knows? I was a remarkably healthy child, and after the first few months of life only cried when injured or inoculated. I didn’t have a cold until I was six. I’ve enjoyed good health since then, too, though that may be my genes. Frankly, I’m surprised the contraption never took off. A few aircribs were built during the late 50s and 60s, and somebody also produced plans for DIY versions, but the traditional cot was always going to be a smaller and cheaper option. My sister used one for her two daughters, as did hundreds of other couples, mostly with some connection to psychology.

My father’s opponents must have been gratified to hear – and maybe keen to pass on – the tales about his child-rearing contraption and crazy daughter. Friends who heard an abridged chapter of Slater’s book on Radio 4, or read the reviews, have been phoning to ask if I had really sued my father or had a psychotic episode. I wonder how many friends or colleagues have been afraid to ask, and how many now think about me in a different light.

In his Observer review, Tim Adams at least suspected something was amiss with Slater’s research. He realised she could have contacted me to confirm or verify what she suspected, but plainly hadn’t. His conclusion? I had gone into hiding. Well, here I am, telling it like it is. I’m not crazy or dead, but I’m very angry.

Misrepresentations of science and scientists, including the ‘mad scientist’ meme, are harmful to our understanding of what scientists actually do, and to our understanding of the world. I’m glad Deborah Skinner Buzan has chosen to strike back.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), I have recently added snopes.com, which also debunked this story, to my blogroll.

The best thing about the EU expansion…

…is hearing a lot of music from the Baltic and Eastern European countries on the radio. Just minutes ago, I heard a track from an Estonian group whose name I missed, but they’ll be in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. OK, so that’s not much of a recommendation, but despite being a EuroSong contribution, it actually sounded great, with all the hallmark touches of Finno-Ugric music: powerful female voices in daring, harmonies, with a touch of accordion. If that is Estonia’s trashy pop music, I would love to hear the more authentic stuff!

Looks like I’ll need another domain hosting provider…

To: support@gandi.net:

To whom it may concern,

I get repeated spam from http://www.buycheapdrugs.biz which is registered at Gandi. I noticed that Gandi, unlike other domain name providers such as GoDaddy, does not have a policy against the use of spam to advertise domains registered through Gandi.
Legally, you can institute such a policy, and ethically you should. I request that you add language to your terms of service prohibiting the spam-advertising of domains registered with Gandi.

I am a Gandi customer myself, and a satisfied one. However, I do not do business with Internet companies that do not make it a priority to protect the Internet against spam, and so your response to this issue will determine whether I will do business with Gandi in the future.

Best wishes,

Reinder Dijkhuis, [email address deleted]

From Gandi to me:

To improve our help desk, we have set up a new interface. From
now, to contact our support please visit the link:


There you will easily find answers to the most fequently asked questions,
in the area you are interested in.

At the end of this research, you will of course be able to contact us by email. An online form will help you to ask your question. Then you will receive our personalized answer.

Our help desk is still free of charge, in english or french languages, and only by email.

Best regards,
Gandi support service

From the link provided in the automated message above:

Cases where Gandi can not act

Gandi is a registrar of domain names. We do not provide any webhosting services nor email accounts, that could be used for spam.

Thus we can not desactivate nor delete a domain name on the only reason that it is used, directly or no directly, to send some spam. Because we can not act as a judge.

However please find below some information that could be useful in two kinds of spam:
When you use the Whois on the domain name that you have found in the spam, you see that the domain name is handled by Gandi:

Gandi is an ICANN accredited registrar, and as such registers domain names on behalf of its customer. Gandi does not provide any webhosting nor email accounts to its customer, but only the registration of the domain name. The use of the domain name is only up to the person who owns the domain, and/or to the contacts of the domain: you can find the details of these persons in the Whois.

Boilerplate above the online form referred to in Gandi’s automated response:

Warning: our email help-desk is restricted to questions which are not
answered in our website, particularly in our Frenquently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Mail to legal@gandi.net bounced.

This will not do. Gandi has no policy against spamvertised domains and has explicitly made itself unavailable to complaints about this. The issue is “answered on their website” and if you find their answer unsatisfactory, tough luck to you.

ROCR is registered with Gandi until 2005. If their policy hasn’t changed by then, I will switch to a domain register that does, even if the other domain registrar is considerably worse in all other respects than this one. Even Network Solutions will do if they cut off spamvertised domains.

Continue reading “Looks like I’ll need another domain hosting provider…”

I always said that boy would get far!

Just a week after The Wisdom of Moo, Adrian Ramos’ newest comic, debuted on Girlamatic, news comes in that he has “enthusiastically accepted” an invitation for his “older” comic Count Your Sheep to join Keenspot.

This again proves the predictive value of the short links list on the ROCR front page, although predicting success for CYS is like shooting fish in a barrel.

I don’t have anything to link to for the announcement but that interminable Keenspace forum thread, but it’s from Chris Crosby so it’s as official as it gets.

Right-wing conglomerate stifles patriotic expression

Joey Manley comments on Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent decision not to broadcast Nightline’s roll call of American war dead today, highlighting the free speech aspect and questioning SBGI’s historical awareness:

This is scary, people. A rollcall honoring those who gave their lives in this war is not only appropriate, it’s traditional and conventional journalism — this kind of thing has been done by journalistic outlets in every American war since, at least, World War I. It’s even a little jingoistic, frankly. That something like this can be considered verboten is truly a sign of the danger free speech is in, right now, in our country.