Posts from October 2002

Photo of a meadow and trees

meadow and trees


Goodbye Meg and Jason. I'm sad they're leaving the Bay Area, and I'm very happy for them.

Weblog Identities

Mark Pilgrim's discussion of how to stop spam in comments is very interesting. I don't have an answer for it, but I think it also brings up another important issue related to comments: persistent identity across sites. I think there are a couple of types of people who post comments. Some people have a carefully constructed Internet identity that is linked to their real-world identity. They care about how they are perceived on the Web because it affects their real-world lives. Others post anonymously with pseudonyms, and they don't care how that username is perceived because it isn't linked to their real-world life. I think there's a place for both types of posters, and the level of identity-revelation should be voluntary. I think this difference causes friction though, and it could get worse...especially as it relates to persistence.

How do I know that "WackyD00d" posting on site A is the same real-world person behind "WackyD00d" posting on site B? Especially when current weblog comment systems allow the user to put anything they want into the name, url, and email fields. How would the real person behind "WackyD00d" posting on site A police the use of his/her online identity on a site they don't control? Abuse could hinder discussion. It doesn't seem to matter if everyone is posting anonymously, but when real-world reputations are on line it could be problematic. For weblogs to be taken seriously as a place for discussion, I think this problem needs to be addressed.

Requiring a login with email verification could provide some protection, but you run into the problem of putting up a barrier to conversation...especially if you have to register on every site that you'd like to participate. I think some sort of central "Identity Bank" that generates a pgp-style key that could be included with comments across sites could work. It would be a barrier (though lower than a login), and there are some privacy concerns. (I wouldn't trust my info with Passport/Microsoft, for example.) But somehow offering that option to people who care about their online-offline identity link could help. And I think it could be done like PGP, where no one company has the keys to everyone's ID. Mabye it could even be done with PGP somehow.

Bowling for Columbine

I saw Bowling for Columbine last night in a packed house. Michael Moore seems to have taken that Shaw quote to heart, "If you tell people the truth, make them laugh or they'll kill you," because parts of the movie are hilarious. Some of his arguments were frustrating, but he had many, many good points to make. Certain sections reminded me of Manufacturing Consent, because event after nauseating event is shown in succession and it's not fun to look at the negative aspects of our society. But I think it's necessary to confront those aspects if we want to change them. This film brings you face to face with the violent side of American culture and its effects on everyone. And it's worth going to see it for Marilyn Manson's insightful comments alone. The audience I saw it with erupted into applause at the end.

War Protests

washington post : 100,000 Rally, March Against War in Iraq : "Tens of thousands of people marched in peaceful protest of any military strike against Iraq yesterday afternoon, in an antiwar demonstration that organizers and police suggested was likely Washington's largest since the Vietnam era."

El Capitan

el capitan

El Capitan is a huge wall of granite in Yosemite Valley. This weekend we hiked a little ways up from the valley floor so we could get a better look at it. Beyond the view of El Capitan looking up, we had a great view across the valley:

yosemite valley view

As we were enjoying the view and studying the giant rock, I saw something unusual but had an idea what it might be. Some binoculars confirmed it: it wasn't a bird or a strange rock formation, there were people climbing the sheer face. We kept tabs on their progress for a few hours, as we could see them from anywhere on that end of the valley. It was windy at times when we were surrounded by trees, and I can't imagine what it must have been like for them exposed on a cliff face.

el capitan climbers

We eventually left, so we didn't get a chance to see much of their descent. But at times they were swinging what seemed like fifty feet back and forth as they descended. To get a feel for what their view and ascent must have been like, check out the photos that go along with this article. crazy. (I think the climbers we saw were on a different path.)

Squirrel Photo


Photo of Half Dome

half dome
half dome

SQL Server and XML

A few months ago I knew that SQL Server had some XML features built-in, but hadn't yet taken the time to look under the hood to figure it all out. (And the MS docs leave something to be desired.) Then I got a chance to be a technical reviewer for a book called SQL Server 2000 XML Distilled. I came up to speed very quickly as I read about the thinking behind the XML features and tested all of the example code. The book is out now, and I just got a copy in the mail the other day. It looks great, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it in its final form; and having it handy as a reference.

The book has nine authors, and I was one of thirteen technical reviewers. I'm amazed that projects with that many distributed people involved can work out so well, but the folks at Curlingstone are on top of things. The only drawback was the schedule. Curlingstone is located in Scotland, and the reviewed chapters were always due on their Monday morning (my Sunday night, around 1am). Being a procrastinator, I had some late Sunday nights as I finished going through chapters.

DJ Shadow

The soundtrack for this week has been DJ Shadow's The Private Press.

The blog suffers

Lots going on offline. And I'm going to be offline all weekend. The blog suffers.

Emerson Quote

I'm reading The Power of Nonviolence, a birthday present from skp. Sometimes I don't realize how much the news wears on me. Reading a book like this helps put things in perspective and gives me hope. Here's a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay War:
"War and peace thus resolve themselves into a mercury of the state of cultivation. At a certain stage of his progress, the man fights, if he be of a sound body and mind. At a certain higher stage he makes no offensive demonstration, but is alert to repel injury, and of an unconquerable heart. At a still higher stage he comes into the region of holiness; passion has passed away from him; his warlike nature is all converted into an active medicinal principle; he sacrifices himself, and accepts with alacrity wearisome tasks of denial and charity; but, being attacked, he bears it and turns the other cheek, as one engaged, throughout his being, no longer to the service of an individual but to the common soul of all men."
I can't stop thinking about this paragraph since I've read it. It's counter-intuitive at first glance. And definitely counter to current world events. What does it mean to evolve?


Two of my friends named Aaron make up two legs of a musical tripod called Marianas. They have sounds posted on their new website that you can download and enjoy.

No banana and two grapes photo


John Perry Barlow on America

John Perry Barlow, Internet pioneer, has written a state of the nation from his perspective. It was prompted by last Thursday's vote:
"Despite a deluge of calls, letters, and e-mails, which Capital Hill staffers admitted ran overwhelmingly against the ludicrously-named Resolution Authorizing the President to Use Force, if Necessary, to End the Threat to World Peace from Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction, Congress extended to George II the authority to make unlimited and preemptive war against another nation that has neither attacked us nor shown the ability or inclination to do so."
In this letter he criticizes the Internet for the all-talk, no real-world action role it plays. And I agree with JPB, "As much as I loathe organizations, we need to organize." [via boingboing]

bus sign photo

bus sign
Bus sign - Corvallis, OR

gargoyle photo

Post Office Gargoyle - Corvallis, OR

Janis Ian talks about the music business

A fantastic and well-researched article by Janis Ian about the horrible state of the music industry: The Internet Debacle - an Alternative View. [via MeFi] "There is zero evidence that material available for free online downloading is financially harming anyone. In fact, most of the hard evidence is to the contrary."

Not that I'm into baseball

I'm not into baseball, but I always get suckered by the playoff games. I go from casually listening to a few innings early in the season—to screaming at the TV through the entire game by the end of the season. Nice work Giants. Last time they were in the world series there was a horrible earthquake in the Bay Area. I'm sure that's a coincidence. It's not like MLB controls the tectonic plates. (They will someday, but not now...)

Vote against war

I'm against preemptive military strikes. And I vote. (A bit long for a bumper sticker.) I won't be voting for anyone who approved the Iraq resolution. I don't believe they were listening to their constituents...and they didn't even amend the White House's wording or put in an expiration date. (Bush 0wNz3rz Congress!) Beyond voting them out, all we can do is hope that this bit of legislation doesn't become this generation's Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and keep public pressure on our representatives to make sure it doesn't happen.

Now, about that economy...

regarding: Adaptation

With a tagline like that, it's gotta be good. (Jason is writing a weblog about the new Spike Jonez movie Adaptation.)

Senator Byrd on Iraq

I've been listening to the Senate debate the resolution that will authorize the President to use whatever means necessary to preemptively dismantle Iraq—in whatever way he sees fit. The debate has been spirited, and the best part has been listening to Senator Byrd from West Virginia. You can read a transcript of some of his comments, but to get the full effect, check out the MP3 of his speech on that page. This speech was only the beginning of a series of his passionate speeches about this issue. He is almost the lone voice of dissent in the Senate, and I admire his conviction. (I predict that the kids will soon be trading political speeches on Kazaa.)

btw, if you're interested in listening to the Senate debate this issue, check your local NPR radio station. The Bay Area NPR station (KQED) has been preempting their regular programming to air the audio of the debates when they're happening. For some reason, CSPAN doesn't seem to be covering it.

sunset photos

Beautiful sunset at the coast tonight...

coast flower




Where have you been all my life, Kraftwerk?