SPAM UPDATE (AKA TITLES MATTER)

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 | Website Issues | 12 Comments

Trying to be inventive doesn’t always work out well.

I posted an update on the Spam filter situation, and simply reversed the title of my original post. From all appearances, I may as well have titled it “Ignore This”. Mea Culpa.

So, here’s the post again – with a title which is very clear and on-topic.


.siht daer nac uoy fi uoy htiw gnorw gnihtemos s’erehT

(Just a little mind-test. Mine is fried).

You may be able to guess that this is the “inverse” post to “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM….” – which mean’s I’m finished. (Double entendre intended.)

I trust that in the past two days, you’ve seen a noticeable drop-off in moderated/trashed comments. I know I’ve seen far fewer in the queues, and what’s there is almost all legitimate spam. (Is there such a thing as “legitimate spam?”)

I’ve done what I can do. A lot of the trouble was something called “embedded string search” (E.S.S.) It means that you can’t be cute and stick words like “f*ck” in the middle of another word, and searching for “f*ck” also picks up variants like “f*cker”, etc.

But – here’s a perfect example of the DOWNSIDE of “E.S.S.”. One of the words in the banned list was “ass”. It’s considered a mild obscenity, and is not a word that one would generally want to see used, so someone put it on the list.

Now, the bad part – with “E.S.S.”, using any of the following SMALL list of words would get your comment flagged:

glass, class, embarrass, mass, pass, crass, crevasse, brass, grass, Massachusetts, …

You get the picture. THAT’s what has been causing the trouble. It only becomes clear when one actually simulates the search program and sees exactly why a given comment was flagged – that information isn’t provided by WordPress.

The answer? Clear out as many “small” words from the banned list as possible, and put in all of the offensive variants in “long” form. Like, instead of “ass” (which I don’t have trouble with myself; it was good enough for the KJV…) the list now has “assh*le” (which, IMHO, IS offensive).

I have tried to find all the words on the list that could be found innocently by “E.S.S.”, and removed them. That’s as far as I can go; I can’t do anything about WordPress, just about specific things that are detected by the spam filter.

Now, for the moral of the story: I know that the spam filter has been a nuisance; annoyed, frustrated, and confounded many of you. I know that quite well. But – I’m not the customer service department of a huge corporation, or even a small one. I’m just the local “computer geek”, so remember:

    1) The spam filter was alive, well and running before I even read MCJ for the first time.

    2) The blacklist as it was operating was written by – well – I’d have to say either a Congressional Committee, or the speechwriter for the Monty Python Gumbys; NOT Chris, and NOT me.

    3) I have been known to place burning brown paper bags on the doorsteps of those who annoy me. (I use kitty litter…)

If you get a number of comments flagged in rapid succession, please email me at the link below Chris’ email and I’ll look into it. For occasional single comments that are delayed, one word: patience; it is a virtue, and I know that we have many, many virtuous readers here.

Now – all donations of single-malt Scotch will be gratefully received, to help eliminate a massive headache and a ton of frustration.

Bill (not IB)

ps – I’ve also finally, finally found all of the little bugs in the sidebar code that kept it from looking nice and crisp (one whopper of an error that I overlooked about 50 times) so the frequent changes you’ve seen to the right-side of the screen will now stop.


RACISM! RACISM! RACISM!

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Monday, July 4th, 2016 | Everyone a Victim | 8 Comments

As many of you know, Google changes the illustration on their home page frequently to recognize special days or events. Today, July 4th, they had a picture of the top left corner of an American flag, with the stars all “animated” – sporting little hands and feet, and doing such things as bar-b-cueing, mowing the lawn, playing basketball, picnicking, etc.

And in looking at that picture, somehow my brain turned from its normal perspective to that of the folks who we read about all the time in the newspapers – the perpetually offended minority.

And, I realized that – the most racist symbol in the entire United States of America is –

The American flag.

(image excerpt copyright Google)

Out of 50 stars, all 50 are white. There is not so much as one black star; one brown star, one yellow star; one red star….

They’re ALL white.

RACISM! WHITE PRIVILEGE! OPPRESSION! CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER!

Now, here’s the frightening part –

How long before some “victim” actually makes this claim?


YIPPY-KI-YAY

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, July 4th, 2016 | Entertainment | 4 Comments

I guess casting a movie can sometimes be difficult.  Take this movie, for example:

They went to Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. They went to Sly [Stallone], who turned it down. They went to Richard Gere—turned it down. They went to James Caan—turned it down. They went to Burt Reynolds, and all of these people rejected it because, remember, this is 1987. You had all these Rambo movies. We’ve had Commando, Predator, and in the wake of all of these, the hero, they said, was like a pussy. The reaction? “This guy’s no hero.” Right? In desperation, they went to…

Bruce Willis.  For Die Hard.  Pretty much the most awesome movie ever made.


I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT NOT BUTTER

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, July 4th, 2016 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Figures:

Butter consumption was only weakly associated with total mortality, not associated with cardiovascular disease, and slightly inversely associated (protective) with diabetes, according to a new epidemiological study which analyzed the association of butter consumption with chronic disease and all-cause mortality. This systematic review and meta-analysis, published in PLOS ONE, was led by Tufts scientists including Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts in Boston, and senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the School.

Based on a systematic review and search of multiple online academic and medical databases, the researchers identified 9 eligible research studies including 15 country-specific cohorts representing 636,151 unique individuals with a total of 6.5 million person-years of follow-up. Over the total follow-up period, the combined group of studies included 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease, and 23,954 cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes. The researchers combined the nine studies into a meta-analysis of relative risk.

Butter consumption was standardized across all nine studies to 14grams/day, which corresponds to one U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated serving of butter (or roughly one tablespoon). Overall, the average butter consumption across the nine studies ranged from roughly one-third of a serving per day to 3.2 servings per day. The study found mostly small or insignificant associations of each daily serving of butter with total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.


HISTORY OF THE WORLD, REV. 31.A.01011.2πR

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 | Everyone a Victim | 47 Comments

Jeepers, there’s so much material to write about of late I think Chris and I will have our heads explode from Blogger Overload™.

History is supposed to be the recounting of facts from the past. Granted, it’s true that “history is written by the victor”, but given how the passage of time allows for alternative perspectives to be explored and multiple sources to be referenced, it’s still pretty much true that in the long run, histories try to “tell it like it is.”

Well, according to Pennsylvania State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, if one wants to re-create history, one must alter it to suit the whims of – whoever. Certainly her, and there are undoubtedly others with an agenda who are quite willing to add their voices.

What’s Brown’s complaint? She wants the Confederate flag to be “disappeared” from re-enactments of the Battle of Gettysburg:

PA Lawmaker wants Confederate Flag Ban

“Speaking about the Confederate battle flag, [Brown] added, “If they’re not going to tell the story properly, then they should not be displayed and they should not be reenacted unless they’re going to tell the truth.”

Brown said there “hasn’t been many that have really told the story about the oppression of the Confederate flag.” “

“Oppression of the Confederate flag?” All I can say is – W T F?

If she’s really serious about this, she should go “all the way”. As in – the Confederate Army should be excluded from the reenactment. After all, if the flag is offensive, aren’t those who fought for it even *more* offensive?

I’d really like to know if Brown would insist upon the Nazi flag being erased from re-enactment of “The Battle of the Bulge”. After all, the atrocities committed by the Nazis are far, far more abominable than anything done by the Confederate States of America. So, wouldn’t it be right to exclude them from historical observances?

There has been a tremendous international hue and cry about how ISIS (and other radical Islam groups) have been destroying ancient cultural sites like the Buddhas of Bamiyan “in the name of Allah”. There’s really no difference between what ISIS is doing and what Brown is advocating; erasure of the past, so that history can be rewritten to reflect new perspectives, and to support whatever those in power wish to say.

If Ms. Brown wants to pretend that the “War Between the States” was fought by the Union against – well, some unnamed opponent, anonymous because to identify them would be to identify something hateful – fine. She can go marching out on the fields at Gettysburg, and show how, with no opposition, she saved the Union. No one killed Union soldiers, and there was no one else there to be killed by those same Union soldiers. The brave actions of Union soldiers at Gettysburg amounted to merely standing there and proclaiming victory against – well, one can’t even go so far as to “name” the evil forces involved; doing so would be to give them “credibility”.

I cannot begin to express the true nature of my disgust with people like Ms. Brown. If she wants to create a new historical narrative, then she should just come right out and say so, and proclaim her infallibility, omniscience, and all-encompassing sagacity. And, of course, her claim to Divinity – since she clearly is more aware of what has happened/is happening than God.

The history/past that Ms. Brown is advocating is, quite simply – a record that includes no events, actions, speeches, occurrences, or anything else whatsoever; it simply refers to a simplified set of rules supporting the agenda of those in power.

“All animals are equal; but some animals are more equal than others.”


THE NEW HILLARY “TEAM”

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 | Presidential Election | 40 Comments

Thank goodness! Hillary has decided to commit political suicide:

Hillary and Obama


THERE IS NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS…

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 | Sports | 14 Comments

iceland…than a sports team that can’t comprehend why it shouldn’t still be playing.  I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon.

Sorry, France.  I’ve got French Huguenot ancestors I’m quite proud of so I’m not going to make the usual jokes that we English-speakers enjoy making at your expense.  And I realize that you’re probably going to win this game.

But I hope that you lose and, except for the people of your wonderful country, pretty much everyone in the entire world agrees with me.  Also, with a surname like mine, I’ve undoubtedly got a Viking ancestor or two back along my bloodline somewhere or other so…

GO ICELAND!!

It’s nothing personal, France.

UPDATE:  It’s not going to happen.  There are about twenty minutes to go and France is up 5-1.  Paris holds off the Vikings once again.  Since I was born and currently live in territory that used to be French, Les Bleus are my team from here on out.

UPDATE: France 5, Iceland 2  Congratulations to France.  Take it home, messieurs.


….MAPS, MAPS, MAPS, MAPS

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 | Website Issues | 4 Comments

This post has been re-titled as “SPAM UPDATE” and moved to the top of the postings list.


THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HISTORY CHANNEL

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 | Uncategorized | 25 Comments

I suppose that an explanation of my current situation is in order.  Remember that move I told you all about a while back?  Not to put too fine a point on it but that move has gone about as badly as it is possible for a move to go.

Most of that is my own fault.  While I basically only had a month’s notice (one of the reasons I wanted out of my old joint), I got seriously started way too late and I BADLY underestimated the difficulty of finding a new apartment when you don’t have a car.

Affordable apartments are easy to find.  But if you don’t have transportation, not only can you not get there and look the place and the neighborhood over, you have to find a place that’s close enough to a source of food and medicine that you don’t have to drive there.

Since I didn’t have a place lined up, I had to rent a cargo van to move my stuff into rented storage.  And for the last two months, I’ve had to rent cars to get around and pay for cheap hotels to live in.

I was informed the other day that I have pretty much the perfect place lined up but it won’t be ready to go for another three weeks (hopefully less) so I’m probably going to continue to live in cheap-ass hotels at least until then.

And continue to bankrupt myself, pretty much.

Actually, my life right now is not all that terribly awful.  Free wi-fi covereth a multitude of sins but there are some things even I can’t take which is why I’ve moved so often.  And I’ve gotten to watch cable again on a regular basis which has taught me some things.

Mainly, that I don’t care if I ever again get cable or satellite or any other enhanced television experience.

Take the History Channel.  Please.  Way back when I had cable, the History Channel was one of my favorite stations because you could watch, well, actual historical documentaries there and I’m always a sucker for a good historical documentary.  If I could have picked what channels went into my cable package, THC would have been one of them.

But no longer.  Right now, THC is showing a marathon of a show called “Ancient Aliens,” a series which suggests that alien beings have influenced the life and history of Earth.  These beings were the “gods” of our legends, stories and scriptures.

And they’re doing it with a perfectly straight face.  Add to that the fact that THC does very little actual history any more and I know that I at least don’t have to spend that amount of money.


SERIOUSLY?

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, July 1st, 2016 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Normally, I wouldn’t wish unemployment on anyone.  But there are exceptions:

Bloodied and bruised Hannah Cohen was led from Memphis International Airport in handcuffs.

The 19-year old was headed home to Chattanooga after treatment for a brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital June 30, 2015.

It’s a trip they’ve made for 17 years.

This time, an unarmed Hannah, set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint

“They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother Shirley Cohen.

Cohen told us she tried to tell TSA agents her daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused, but said she was kept at a distance by police.

“She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” said Cohen.


SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM…

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Thursday, June 30th, 2016 | Website Issues | 19 Comments

OK, boys and girls…

I know that the spam filter is a MAJOR headache. (More so for Chris and I; we have to try and keep up with allowing valid comments through in some kind of timely manner, knowing full well that you folks hate having your most sagacious and illuminating thoughts held up by a mere piece of software…)

I’m going to be doing some major-league testing of things; copying the list of “triggers”, searching blocked comments for “offensive” material, and anything else that comes to mind in order to make the spam filter less of a problem. Please – give me some time to get this done. Believe it or not, I *do* have other things I need to attend to, and the effort involved in dealing with the grahzny bratchny* spam-a-lot is, in fact, a big deal.

I ask you to not try tests; don’t attempt to figure out how the bloody filter works. If *I* can’t understand it, then *you* haven’t got the chance of a whelk in a supernova. (Anyone want to go one-on-one with me in an algorithmic challenge?)

I’m trying, folks. ****PLEASE**** be patient.

* – extra points for identifying the source of this ‘quote’; Googling is unfair…


HEAR THE TINY VIOLINS…

Posted by Bill (not IB) | Thursday, June 30th, 2016 | Everyone a Victim | 50 Comments

In the world of blogging, there is a never-ending challenge of “one-upmanship” to be the first to report on the most outre, the most leading-edge, the “big story”. I suppose that instead of getting “the Pulitzer”, one would get “the Pajamas” as an award.

I cannot claim to be the first to write about this; I saw it on “College Insurrection”. But even though I’m behind in the race for fame and glory, there’s absolutely no way I could let this one go without getting in my two cents:

Ladies and gentlemen, madames et messiuers, I give you:

The most victimized person in the history of history:


Harvard Law Grad Suing NY State Board After Failing Bar Exam

(As you read this, imagine a chorus of tiny violins playing “[I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction” ever so faintly in the background…)

This poor little damsel, after having graduated from Harvard Law School (and this article leads me to have many, many concerns over the value of a Harvard Law Degree) just couldn’t seem to pass the New York State bar exam.

Tamara Wyche, who struggled valiantly against the oppressive laws and regulations of the State of New York, was unable to parlay her Harvard Law sheepskin* into a license to practice law. So, since it’s obvious that everyone has a *right* to pass the bar exam, she set forth a list of “demands” that she said were owed to her under the “Americans With Disabilities Act”. Poor little waif was out riding around on an ATV and had an accident, which left her with “cognitive difficulties including memory loss”. How does she know she has memory loss? And, she’s depressed, has anxiety disorder, and I’m sure that, if necessary, the list can be extended to include PTSD, ADHD, and Kryptonite allergies.

What was it that this Harvard Grad wanted:

1) 50% Extra time. (What I wouldn’t have given for an extra 10 minutes on my Physics II final …)

2) Stop-clock breaks. So, spend 10 minutes “working” on the test, then get up, head to the restroom, get a bottle of water, check the latest news on CNN, and after about 20 minutes or so you force yourself back to your desk for another horrific 10 minutes trying to answer questions that you find offensive, degrading, irrelevant, racist; but something in you remembers that they were included in various textbooks, lectures and discussion groups. However, you were busy playing Angry Birds on your phone, and posting your chat with the barista at the Starbucks around the corner on your Facebook page.

3) A private testing room. So if there are 500 people taking the bar exam that day, you feel it’s not unreasonable to expect that they’ll each get their own room, a personal proctor, and an environment carefully arranged according to thrir personal feng shui needs.

And let’s be clear about things – we don’t have to take Tamara’s word for any of this, she has letters from doctors proving just how incapable she is. (Is it wise to publicize to future clients how you cannot even hope to achieve the most basic standards that any other lawyer could offer?)

Amazingly enough, after sufficient pressure was put on them, the bar committee agreed to grant Wyche stop-clock breaks and allowed her to take the exam in a smaller room, along with others that requested similar accommodations.

I’m sure you can hear this coming – it wasn’t good enough. Our delicate lawyer-to-be failed, and couldn’t wait to point the “Fickle Finger of Fate” at the bar committee for causing her to have an anxiety attack.

A year later, she tried again. The bar committee gave her 50% extra time for the test – but not her own private testing area, so she again broke under the awful pressure and failed the exam.

Well, enough is enough. The test is given in order to be passed, and Tamara had a RIGHT to pass it – so, time came to contact someone in the trade she’s looking to join so that a lawsuit could be filed against the New York State bar committee.

Here’s my simple question:

If you can’t pass the bar exam without extensive special consideration, how the freak are you ever going to function as a lawyer? Will you try and force the judge into granting you “time outs” in the middle of testimony to allow you to gather your wits? Will you automatically be provided extra time to respond to pleadings? Do you get to bill extra because routine tasks are so much of a challenge you need special accommodation?

There is NO FREAKING WAY in which I can even begin to feel the smallest, merest, most infinitesimal shred of sympathy for this – sorry, folks, but I HAVE to say it – sack of feces. If there is justice in this world, she will be required to return her law degree to Harvard, and stand in the middle of Times Square wearing a sandwich sign saying, “Please Call the Wizard of Oz; I Need a Brain”.

* “Sheepskin” – uh-oh, how long before PETA gets hold of THIS one???


AGREED

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, June 30th, 2016 | Big (BAD) Government | 7 Comments

All you’ll need to do is to drive over to sign the paperwork in a brand-new 2016 Yugo Scrooyerself:

Insurers helped cheerlead the creation of Obamacare, with plenty of encouragement – and pressure – from Democrats and the Obama administration. As long as the Affordable Care Act included an individual mandate that forced Americans to buy its product, insurers offered political cover for the government takeover of the individual-plan marketplaces. With the prospect of tens of millions of new customers forced into the market for comprehensive health-insurance plans, whether they needed that coverage or not, underwriters saw potential for a massive windfall of profits.

Six years later, those dreams have failed to materialize. Now some insurers want taxpayers to provide them the profits to which they feel entitled — not through superior products and services, but through lawsuits.


SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 | Jobs and Employers | 41 Comments

Let’s say that you run a particular business.  Let’s also say that another business comes along and does what you do better and cheaper than you do it.  Your business has two, and only two, choices.  Its first choice is to adapt.  Its second is to die:

The rise of Uber and Lyft has dealt a swift, brutal blow to the Los Angeles taxi industry.

Since the ride-hailing services began operating in Southern California three years ago, the number of L.A. taxi trips arranged in advance has fallen by 42%, according to city records, and the total number of trips has plummeted by nearly 30%. 

The steepest drops were in the city’s most popular nightlife and tourist destinations: the Westside, Hollywood and downtown.

The declines point to a dramatic shift wrought by the popular app-based transportation companies, which have wrested market share from taxi companies that have enjoyed decades of dominance in Los Angeles. The decline mirrors what’s happening across the country, as taxis — regulated by local governments on everything from price to the color of their cars — struggle to compete with cheaper, more nimble start-ups.

In San Francisco, the corporate home of both Uber and Lyft, the number of trips taken per taxi dropped by more than two-thirds over a two-year period. Drivers in Boston, Washington and New York City have reported less dramatic declines.

In Los Angeles, the brunt of the downturn has fallen on the drivers, many of whom sit behind the wheel full time, said taxi commission President Eric Spiegelman. By contrast, Uber and Lyft representatives say most of their drivers work part time to supplement income from other jobs.

I don’t know if there are statistics available for what Uber and Lyft have done to the taxi industry in the St. Louis area.  But I do know this.

I haven’t owned a car in about two and a half years.  That wasn’t a problem; I used to live within walking distance of two markets and my pharmacy.  Hell, it was the only exercise I ever got and if I ever needed to go someplace farther away, to one of my doctors’ offices, say, I could always catch a cab.

Because mass transit is not that much of a priority around here.  There are large parts of St. Louis County where buses don’t go and Metrolink, our local train service, does not run.  So I had only one option.

Taxis.

Problem is that over that period, I have had to reschedule doctor’s and other distant appointments at least four times because St. Louis metropolitan taxi companies couldn’t find me AT MY HOME.

Then I switched to Uber and they haven’t failed me to find me wherever I happened to be.  They’ve had to call me a time or two but I’ve never had to wait longer than ten minutes for a ride to wherever I needed to go and I got there cheaper than a cab ride would have cost me.

Do the math.


THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY

Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 | Big (BAD) Government | 5 Comments

Live in Manhattan?  Didn’t have time for breakfast this morning?  Not to worry.


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