My personal e-mail address was spammed for the first time today. I’ve got about 80 aliases on my mailserver that I’ve set up at various times in the past to communicate with potentially-disreputable parties, but someone I’ve communicated with personally has passed on my address—probably innocently—and now the flood is going to begin. As a result, I’ve spent the last 10 hours installing SpamAssassin and various other blocking tools.

SA looks like it will be useful, but I’m completely unable to get spamc to work from .procmailrc or /etc/procmailrc. The silly thing is that spamassassin -P does work, so I’m stuck with starting a new Perl instance for every message that arrives.

So you’re saying it wasn’t easy?

[E]verything was much harder to do than I imagined, despite the fact that I was already imagining everything would be much harder than I imagined. I mean, I began from how hard I thought everything would be, multiplied this by the usual you-know-things-never-go-as-planned factor, then multiplied this by a no-seriously-it’s-going-to-harder-still factor, and still came nowhere close to imagining the horrors ahead.

Michael Barrish

Living obituaries

obituary (əU’bItjUərI) A record or announcement of a death or deaths, esp. in a newspaper; usually comprising a brief biographical sketch of the deceased.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

Perhaps it’s just me, but the term “living obituary” seems… I don’t know, just wrong somehow, like you’re just waiting for someone to die. I came across it in the HTML source for Salon’s article on Stan Lee while I was writing my last entry, and it’s been bugging me ever since.

I don’t have a problem with preparing so-called “advance obituaries”. Everyone’s heard of the various occasions when a still-living celebrity’s obituary has been sent out over the wires—most recently, and perhaps most famously, Associated Press published Bob Hope’s obit accidentally, and the story mushroomed. What I don’t like is overloading the term (defined above) simply to refer to a profile, even if it’s one that hits “all the notes that standard profiles miss.”

“Brilliant Careers” is a perfect title for Salon’s series of profiles. But they’re not obituaries, living or otherwise.

’Nuff said

I’ve always liked the term “’Nuff said,” but never really had an origin or context for it until just recently when I was reminded that it’s a Stan Lee-ism. Which makes sense—one of the first comic books I can remember reading was an extended Spider-Man book (what these days would probably be referred to as a graphic novel) that I received from my parents when I had my tonsils removed. I’ve liked ol’ Spidey in general ever since, although I’ve really only started reading “The Amazing Spider-Man” regularly since J. Michael Straczynski started writing it.

This category is where I plan to post quotes with little or no comment. They will speak for themselves, just like Stan Lee’s line.

’Nuff said.

Why do anything?

You don’t write for the money, because if you do, you’re a monkey. You don’t write for the fame, because if you do, you’re a monkey. You don’t even write because you like to write, because if you do, you’re still a monkey. You write because to NOT write is suicide.

Stephen King

A true writer—as opposed to someone who’s only in it for the bucks, or who just want the Pointy Hat that says “I sold something”—can’t NOT write. Stories are always unfolding behind your eyes, and the only way to get rid of them is to write them up and send them away.

J. Michael Straczynski

These quotes from two guys who have a clue of what they’re talking about. Don’t tell my boss (oh, go ahead and tell him—he already knows) but that’s how I feel about what I do. Take away my job and I’ll just find another one doing the same thing.

Slight redesign

I’ve been re-reading Mark Pilgrim’s 30 Days to a More Accessible Weblog and updating various bits on this (relatively new) blog. One thing he doesn't point out, particularly in day 26's column, is a combined application of day 9's and day 14's tips that will help Bill (and other Mozilla users): adding a title attribute to the <link rel="stylesheet"> tag. This allows them to completely turn off the styles that have been defined in that sheet using the “View > Use Style > Basic Page Style” menu item—fonts, colours, sizes, everything as you've told your browser to display it. (The W3C refers to this in the HTML 4.01 Specification as defining a preferred stylesheet.)

Oh yeah, a sample:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css" title="Default site styles" />


It’s odd—a lot of the courses I enjoyed the least at university were electives, which I chose because I had some existing interest in the topics. What does that say, exactly: never learn more about things you enjoy? Somehow I just don’t buy that.

Let’s try this again…

This may seem like an obvious point to make, but I like music. A recent discussion with a friend made me wonder, though, just what it is about music that I like, and it’s not as simple as “it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”

First, to quote C. Montgomery “Monty” Burns, “I know what I hate.” I’d rather pull a da Vinci (twice) than listen to most hip-hop, country (particularly “new” country, whatever that means), hardcore “metal” rock, and Celine Dion.

For any- and everything else, tune me in. I’ve got a particular predilection towards somewhat quirky (I like to say “unique”) acts; some that come to mind immediately are Lenni Jabour, who plays “cabaret pop” with her band The Third Floor; Moxy Früvous and Barenaked Ladies, who made their names in Canada writing witty, satirical songs; Sirens, “a cross between the Andrews Sisters and Manhattan Transfer with acoustic guitars”; and Ken Nordine, the creator and master of “word jazz”.

The list above may suggest a certain national bias—everyone except Ken Nordine is Canadian—and that’s certainly a factor. I like Canadian music, which is why I’ve hardly tuned my radio away from CBC in the past 15 years.

And I’m willing to admit that I’m a sucker for a pretty face (but not to the exclusion of talent): Emm Gryner (who I also attended high school with), Sheryl Crow, Dayna Manning, Melanie Doane, the aforementioned Lenni Jabour, and too many more to list.

And then there’s jazz… and folk… and world music… and all of the other nebulous genres that people use to define musicians and groups. Continuing what’s becoming a pattern of lists with an eclectic set of people: Loreena McKennitt, whose “Celtic” music traces the history of the Celts back across Europe, Africa and Asia; “Weird Al” Yankovic, the king of musical parodists (and not a bad songwriter in his own right, either); Peter Gabriel, Genesis, the Police, and others about who nothing more needs be said; Paris Combo and Pink Martini and Quartetto Gelato, who all perform ensemble work that makes me think of cafés in France; Stan Rogers and Stompin’ Tom Connors, two singers who have written some of the most uniquely Canadian songs there have ever been; Spirit of the West and Gowan, two acts that I’ll travel long distances to see; and so many more than I have space or time to list.

And still none of that answers the question of what it is about music that I enjoy. There’s no common thread or quality; it’s not about a particular instrument, voice, style, or experience, and it’s not music selection, or lyrics, or technical skill, although they all play a part. I’m going to need to think about this some more.

Continue reading Let’s try this again…