Spam kills

Spam kills small websites. Especially, small sites that have a modicum of user feedback. Because the volume of user feedback on my site was small, and I’ve had a web presence for years, my site was (and is) particularly attractive to spammers.

They inundated my forum, so I closed it down. They spammed the comment area on my blog, so I have to approve any comments. But I still get so many spammed comments that the real ones sometimes get deleted along with the spam. Since I’ve started my site, I always allowed any email that is sent to my domain to reach my mailbox. Because it costs nothing for a spammer to send emails, even to bogus addresses, I would get hundreds of spam emails to addresses like grreks@macphoenix.com or qpxb@macphoenix.com. Still, the filters in my email reader were good enough to reduce the amount of spam in my inbox to the dozens per day, which I could easily delete.

Recently, however, some enterprising spammer decided to put macphoenix.com as the reply-to in his latest spew. He forged the headers, illegal in America but hardly uncommon, to make it look as though these emails were being sent from my domain. Again, they were all random “users,” like my good friends hertz@macphoenix.com and jfres@macphoenix.com. When a good portion of the spam was returned, because the addresses were false, or the domain had anti-spam measures put in place, it would end up in my inbox. Last Saturday, I had 2000 emails. I had to sort through them, for the needle in the haystack, and deleted the rest. On Monday I had 3000.

I had to stop accepting every email to my domain. For five years, I’ve accepted anything, in case someone misspells my name, which happens constantly. On the fly, I’ve been able to sign up for mailings on dubious sites, because I could always route the made up name into a spam filter. It made tracking those that sold my email address easy, since I know that bmgjunk@macphoenix.com was the name I gave to BMG. But no more. Now, I’d have to sign into my sites control panel, make up a new email address, new password, then tell my email reader to check that account. Eventually, I’d have dozens of accounts, for the sole purpose of making sure my increasing worthless name doesn’t get shared with spamming lists, when my whole domain has been poisoned.

Because of the volume of spam that seeming has been sent by me, my IP has been blocked by certain hosts, so I can no longer grab the RSS feeds for the weather or the Word of the Day. So spam has crippled my site, my email, and my productivity. And I’m just a small, unregarded nobody out on the unfashionable end of the western arm of the Internets.

Two-bit ballet

With the Bush Administration, I am reminded of a cartoon of an anthropomorphized animal, dancing around in a tutu, on a stage that is in tatters from the stage lights and curtain weights that have fallen from above, each leaving a splintered crater in its wake. The cartoon character is blissfully unaware of each hurtling object, and manages to dance away from the spot just before the next sandbag would have made him into a pancake. There is some Carl Starling music playing, no doubt, and the feet of the character’s leotards are comically ill-fitting. And while it is my very nature to laugh inappropriately, to guffaw loudly at the blackest comedy, I can only smirk inwardly at the dancing idiot in this cartoon, because he’s ruining a perfectly fine country. Let’s call him Commander Codpiece. Each falling object is labeled with some crisis that the Bushies couldn’t handle: The Economy. The Chinese spy plane. 9/11. The failure to capture Osama. North Korean nukes. The lies and hyperbole leading up the Iraq war. The Iraq war. Katrina. The Abramoff money-laundering lobbyist scandal. The NSA spying without warrants. Iran. Everyone is aware of these things, but there are too many people who are just entertained by the silly dancing. Some people assume because he’s on stage, he must be respected. I just see an idiot dancing to funny music. Some assume Commander Codpiece shows skill by avoiding the falling debris. Whereas I see a very lucky cartoon character who has a sympathetic director. And I’ll be very happy when the little pig comes out, stuttering, “That’s all folks!” Update: Oh, Medicaid. They couldn’t handle that one, either. And Energy and Environmental initiatives. And Harriet Myers. And pretzels.

Little bit of perspective

On the teaser for WCBS local 11 o’clock news, Jim Rosenfield says, “Jews around the world are praying for Ariel Sharon.” Without trying to notice the irony of a man named Rosenfield saying this, I had to wonder if Vladimir Putin were gravely ill, if the news would tell me that “Russian Orthodox Catholics around the world are praying,” for him. Or when Queen Elizabeth’s health fades, “Episcopals (or Anglicans, take your pick) around the world…,” etc. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’ve seen dozens of photos of Orthodox Jews praying at the Wailing Wall, all apparently doing so because Sharon is in the hospital, but I can’t help but question when that stock footage was taken, and how often those same men are at the Wall, no matter who is sick. Should he die, the government of Israel will survive. Arial Sharon is an elected leader. He is not a religious leader. It worries me that the stupid media can’t understand the difference anymore.

Too much G

In 1992, I voted for Bill Clinton. Shortly after that, I was disappointed by almost everything that he did. At the time, I confused Democratic for Liberal, and Bill was such a good centrist. He moved the entire Democratic Party towards the muddled center. I switched parties, and voted down the Liberal line every election until they took my party away. (New York State no longer has a Liberal Party on the ballot.) So, I voted for Nader in 1996–and for “Grandpa” Al Lewis for Governor–and erroneously did the same in 2000. Well, I didn’t vote for Grandpa again, since he wasn’t on the ballot. Anyway, what Bill did to really annoy me was throw his weight behind an FBI initiative called the “Clipper chip.” This was supposed to allow the FBI to eavesdrop on any cell phone communication with minimal hassle. We were assured that they would only do so after receiving a court order. The reason for this chip was to make it easy to break the encryption on cell phone transmissions, because even if the Feds could easily get the court order, it didn’t mean that they could understand what they were listening to. But this was a bad idea on several levels. The first was the method of the “key,” by which the Fed would be able to tap the phone. The key was a long series of bits that would open up the phone’s encryption, but the government wasn’t about to tell anyone how long (it turned out to be 80-bits), which is important, because shorter bit-lengths are easier to crack. In other words, no one knew how secure a phone conversation would be, because some high-school kid could have broken into your Clipper chip. Or perhaps a business rival. Or a foreign agent. Another problem, which proved to be the death knell for the ol’ Clipper chip, was that it would be required by law on every phone sold in America (or made by American companies), where the law was applicable. Of course, criminals and nefarious types could just get their phone in some other country, where the cell phones wouldn’t be hobbled by the chip, thus defeating the very “purpose” of the chip. It was bad policy, and was abandoned in 1996, but the damage, in my mind at least, to the Clinton legacy was forever soldiered onto the circuit board of history. Or something. Bill Clinton was bad for personal privacy. And you know what? Privacy wonks called him on it. Clinton dismantled Welfare. And Welfare advocates called him on it. Clinton supported NAFTA (a policy signed into law under Bush Sr). And labor unions called him on it. Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell? Astoundingly bad policy. No Liberal would ever support that. Michael Moore called Bill Clinton the greatest Republican president we’ve ever had. And Moore was right. So, it confuses me that so-called Conservatives have such a tough time calling Bush Jr on his cavalier disregard for Conservative principles. He’s as conservative as Clinton was liberal. What’s more, where one could make a good case that Clinton tacked to the right (to his success, I admit), economically and socially, Bush, rather than tacking towards the left or the right, is actually sinking the sailboat all together. Bush is totally off the charts on principles, ethics, and morals. But so few Republicans, Conservatives, or, damn them, Democrats dare to speak up. It’s inconceivable! But maybe I’m not using that word right. Then we have Drudge. The man who tried to take down the Clinton Administration, does his best to prop up the decaying hulk of the Dubya Junta, by, of course, blaming Clinton. Doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes shut that tightly? Can you breathe with your head buried so deeply? Wake up! Wake up! There is more danger to our nation wrapped in our flag than the pathetic plans of men who dream of martyrdom.

Kingly

In this time of the brutal War on Christmas, it takes a strong leader to remind us what is really important, which is the continual War on Reason. No matter how far into ignorance and blindness we must go, King George will lead us there, appointed by God, anointed by Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit. King George. We are so lucky to have him. Any lesser man would be troubled by breaking the law over and over and over again. But unto the King, no laws need stand, for he is Law, and he is Justice, and he is merciful to his subjects, even when they disagree with him. And King George knows he must break the law to protect us, because otherwise we might vote for the opposition party, and they do not have the balls to do what is right in the face of imminent danger, oh yes one-day-in-the-nebulous-future-imminent danger. King George. Appointed by God’s Heavenly Agents on Earth. Anointed by the press. Filled with Holy Spirit as only a dry drunk can be. Why were we the lucky ones? What if King George had been born unto the heathen oil-drillers? What if King George had had but one successful business venture instead of several failed ones before entering politics? What if King George had concentrated his whole life to ethics, sociology, history, politics, or economics? Would he still be our King? Thankfully, these need no answer, because he his our King. And may God have mercy on us all.

A third-world response to an American crisis

Jack Cafferty used to be a newscaster on the local NBC affiliate out here in New York, and he was a likable enough guy. He, briefly, went to work for the more local WPIX which would soon become the WB11, and Cafferty was out. It was plain to see he didn’t like it there at the WB, and presented the news pretty gruffly. I hadn’t seen him for a while, and then he shows up on CNN a couple of years ago, and I think to myself, huh, I wonder if that is going to be a good match. He was still pretty gruff, and they put him on the morning show, which I was positive was not a good idea, but he stayed there until CNN started that stupid Situation Room. Anyway, that’s all just meandering memories. The point is Jack Cafferty, a pretty professional and long time New York newscaster, has that olde tyme gravitas, a kind of no-nonsense approach to news–nothing flashy. “This is the news and that’s how you’ll like it,” sort of thing. He’s been a reliable marker for what level of shenanigans the press is willing to put up with, before they call out “bullshit.” He said this, yesterday:

…I’m 62, I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things–I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can’t sandwiches be dropped to those people in that Superdome down there? This is Thursday! This is Thursday! This storm happened five days ago. It’s a disgrace, and don’t think the world isn’t watching. This is the government the taxpayers are paying for and it’s fallen right flat on its face, in the way its handled this thing. He’s not the only member of the elite press corps declairing shenanigans on the team sitting in the White House. Some of us believe that a government’s responsibility is to its people, but Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu believes the first business of government is patting itself on the back for a job well done. Anderson Cooper, also of CNN, doesn’t buy it. It seems he gets upset when he sees Americans lying dead in city streets being eaten by rats. Ted Koppel, of Nightline, can’t understand why thousands of people starving and dehydrating at the New Orleans Convention Center are still without food and water, and Michael Brown of FEMA tells an incredulous Koppel that the federal government just learned that people were at the convention center that day–FIVE DAYS after the hurricane. Koppel, too, calls bullshit. And the point is made: The press is getting antsy. A part of me wonders why this tragedy, of all things, is making the pressmen stand up and shake their fists at this pathetic disgrace of an administration and the miserable failure that is our president. And I think it is the shock to these men and women who have reported overseas and watched death and war and famine strike in dozens of places on Earth, but never, ever for a moment thought that the United States could ever get that bad. A single act of nature displaced half a million people, crippled our energy infrastructure, and created a breakdown of law and order that threatens to spread into three states. And while the hurricane could not have been prevented, it was a knowable danger, and for four days our federal government sat blithely on the sidelines while thousands of American lives were destroyed. As quick as the destruction was on September 11, 2001, this one unfolded over days, and it will not end for months. And when the enormity of it hit the airwaves, our president played guitar in California, our vice-president was keeping silent somewhere in the wilderness of Wyoming, and our secretary of state was vacationing in New York city, buying thousand dollar shoes and playing tennis with pretty people. Who are these people, and where is their compassion? I think, maybe, that’s what’s getting the press all flustered, because they are there with their cameras and reporters, and they cannot believe the enormity of it, and they know that much of the destruction could have, and should have, been prevented.

Portal news switch

On my <http://www.macphoenix.com/portal/”>portal page, I had a link to CNN.com. I didn’t really want it there, but at the time, no other news site was consistently reliable. CNN displayed nice on Mac browsers, and it’s coverage, while always mediocre, was not too insulting to my intelligence. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it either. I mean, CNN always did their best to equate bin Laden to Hussein, which caused me to switch over to ABC.com for a time, but that was when ABC had a raw news feed, where news stories came right off the wire, unedited. It was kind of neat, really, but that didn’t last long, and once they got rid of it, they began to wall off much of their content, and I began to feel Disney was busy watching the bottom line. I switched back to CNN, reluctantly, but it was still better than the alternatives. MSNBC was run by Microsoft. That isn’t horrible in of itself, since I used to read Slate.com, which up until recently was run by MS, but MSNBC was lousy on Mac browsers. Horrible. Almost as bad as my site is on IE for PC, and that’s bad. CBS was more like an online advertisement for it’s television broadcasts, and FoxNews, of course, I would sooner drown in a bathtub that trust it for actual news. I linked to the BBC for a while, but their coverage was specifically about the big events happening in America, and some smaller, but often more interesting, stories never made it on their site. So I stayed with CNN. But it was getting worse and worse and worse. Today was it. One of their seven or so top stories, displayed right near the top of the page was “Actress Tiffany Thiessen gets married.” Gee, I care. Why is this worthy of national news? At least, I should have been thankful that this bit of entertainment fluff won out for the prestigious headline spot over “Johansson: Nudity yes, bra no,” which, while still on the front page, was regulated to their entertainment section. I admit, I clicked on the link. It was an advertisement for The Island disguised as an article where Scarlett Johansson expressed dismay at a cheap bra they wanted her to wear during a love scene to keep the PG-13 rating. At this point, I said goodbye to CNN. I clicked on over to MSNBC. The page looked good on Safari, my browser, and it has a blog by Keith Olbermann, who is probably the best newscaster in the business, but will never get anywhere because he knows things, and people hate the smart guy. Thiessen’s pending marriage was not to be found within the top stories, for some reason, and Scarlett Johansson and the cheap bra was regulated to the second tier on the Entertainment page, and was not found on the main site. And so there it is. I’m putting MSNBC on the portal page. I should have ditched CNN a long time ago.

I will never understand human behavior

At some point in my life, I am going to have to accept that I am not part of the mainstream. It is clear to me that a majority of my countrymen are completely blind and deaf. They gave legitimacy to the worst president, the vilest mindset, and the party of reactionary, knee-jerk politics. I felt the winds of change, and it turned out to be smog from an oil refinery. My days of a prognosticator are over, for sure. My logic is so flawed that I predicted that this administration would reap what it had sown, but time and time again, these udder incompetents squeak through, and no justice is served. How does a reelection help the chances of prosecuting those that leaked a CIA operatives name? How does a reelection show the world that the Iraq war was an aberration? Four more years of anti flag-burning amendments! Four more years of anti gay-marriage amendments! Four more years of idiocy from the top down. There are some who think that maybe Bush will be a bit more restrained in his second term. For those that do, I offer this quote, from CNN on Wednesday, 03 Nov 04:

“President Bush’s decisive margin of victory makes this the first presidential election since 1988 in which the winner received a majority of the popular vote,” said Card, referring to the White House victory by Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. “And in this election, President Bush received more votes than any presidential candidate in our country’s history.”

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p>We’ve given them a mandate. What was once just ugly has turned malignant.

Goodbye George

Goodbye, George. I won’t miss you. I won’t weep at your passing. Goodbye, George. You represented the worst in us. You pretended your faith was your wisdom, when you had neither. You pandered to your base of religious misanthropics. You pandered to animal fears that fester deep in our society. Goodbye, George. And to all your bastard handlers, too, Cheney and Rummy and Rove. Goodbye all you Nixonites, still skulking around in the system. You should have been purged 30 years ago. But today, we show you the door. Goodbye, George. Although you pass into historical footnotes, we still pay the price of your idiocy. Tomorrow, we shall have to face the enormous task of cleaning up after your destruction. And tomorrow we shall, never shrinking from our duty, but today we celebrate the end of your madness. Goodbye, George. Your only mistake, in your own words, was appointing the wrong people. Can you imagine the hubris? Our only mistake was pretending, wishing, hoping, despite the enormity of the evidence, that you would rise into the honorable position of Leader of the Free World. Goodbye, George. And to those that spun us ’round. Goodbye Condi Rice. Goodbye Tom Ridge. Goodbye Tommy Thompson. Goodbye Andy Card. Goodbye Scott McClelland. Goodbye John Ashcroft. You all failed us in innumerable ways. Goodbye, George. The world is safer without you.