Category Archives: Uncategorized

Serenity in the Air

The trailer for “Serenity”: is online. Rumored to air in theaters with _Revenge of the Sith_, which means that I actually _do_ have a reason to see that movie. Oh well.

I just watched the trailer. It is currently taking a supreme act of will to resist the urge to put in the first DVD and watch all the episodes in a row, right now, without sleeping.

Three Quick Things

1. Wow. The “recent Classical manuscript discoveries”: are huge huge huge (via “Ed”: And yet a quick glance at and turns up no front-page coverage. Silly, silly new outlets.

The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy – the Epigonoi (”Progeny”) by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional material from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discovery.

UPDATE: Thanks to “Mark”: for pointing out that the claims of the importance of the find in _The Independent_ “may have been exaggerated”: It appears the lack of coverage elsewhere was actually a case of proper restraint. Open mouth, insert foot.

2. Jim, at his quotable best yet again “here”:, this time in regards to the Italian intelligence officer killed by U.S. troops in Iraq a few months ago. Can’t decide on an excerpt — read it all.

3. Steve Clemons’ “The Washington Note”: has been an interesting read these past few weeks. He’s devoted all his blogging (and, it seems, all his personal energy) to defeating John Bolton’s nomination to the U.N. by the Senate. Now if this where any ordinary blogger, the effect might be minimal, but Clemons is a well-connected playah, and if the Senators in the subcommittee don’t read TWN, people on their staffs certainly do. Clemons has been targeting his comments to the Senators’ interests, and to specific people (which in this case means mostly Lincoln Chafee). Anyway, it’s getting near the end of the road, but things might get interesting before they’re over. It’s been a fascinating experiment in single-issue blogging.

C is for Slacktivist

If you care about Sesame Street, don’t miss “Fred Clark’s take”: on “the watering down of Cookie Monster”:

I didn’t used to care about Sesame Street all that much, but now I do. Passionately. The operatic version of “C is for Cookie” is the best thing I’ve seen on TV all year.

Sign Me Up

Get ready for the “Unitarian Jihad”: Hat tip to all sorts of people (I think “Ed”: was first). Looking forward to seeing some of you at the meetings.


Brother Katana of Enlightened Compassion

(name generator “here”:

Trackback Spam No More

After being deluged with the stuff for a long time, I haven’t received any trackback spam ever since the “upgrade from hell”: MT-Blacklist is now doing its job, but it struck me that there may be other people who, like me, missed the step it takes to get it to work.

So, if you run Movable Type and MT-Blacklist and trackback spam is whomping you big time, make sure that Blacklist is, in fact, updating itself from the Master Spam List every day. _Clicking the box on the config screen is not enough_. Click on the little help icon next to that config option to find what else you have to do. Once that stuff as set, you’ll be blessedly spam-free again, I hope.

Requiescat in Pace

I was in the second grade the last time a Pope died.[1] As a Protestant attending a Catholic elementary school, the way I made sense of Catholicism was that it was just like what my family did, only way, way more complicated. Our principal was a priest and my first grade teacher had been a nun; it seemed to me that all that was special and different about the strange ways of Catholics was handled by this special cadre of people, and that the rest of Catholics were pretty much like the rest of us. So I was quite taken aback when Mrs. Blankenship announced to our class that the Pope had died with tears streaming down her face. She tried very hard to impress the importance of this event on our young minds; I remember being puzzled by her emotional reaction, and jealous because it felt like I was missing out on something Big and Important.

Who the cardinals choose as the next Pope will be a very big deal, across the world — maybe not politically, but certainly culturally and socially. No _single_ individual in the world wields more power than the Pope.[2] It will matter for everyone, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.[3] God grant the cardinals wisdom and compassion as they make their choice.

fn1. I don’t recall if it was Paul VI or John Paul.

fn2. If we go with Paul Muad’Dib’s adage, “He who can destroy a thing controls that thing,” then top honors might have to go to the American President, who can, theoretically, destroy most of the world by instigating nuclear war. But the fact that that power will almost certainly never be used, and that a madman President wouldn’t be able to act alone to trigger it, means that as an individual, His Holiness still wins out.

fn3. If Christopher Buckley’s short story “proves prophetic”:, Francis Arinze is a shoo-in.

Crooked Headlines

I still haven’t got a chance to read much about the election in Zimbabwe, but just scanning the headlines yesterday, I was puzzled: “Zimbabwe Ruling Party Wins Majority” (CNN)? “Mugabe’s Party Wins Majority in Zimbabwe” (NYT)? Those make it sound like Mugabe won things fair and square, and that can’t be right, can it?

It turns out no, the election was almost certainly crooked, and the news articles said so — but their headlines, inexplicably, did not. Suzanne Nossel has “much more”: on the issue. Via “Matthew Yglesias”:


You know the story. There’s something that gets searched for on the Internet a lot. Call it Foo. Enterprising (if inconsiderate) people realize this, and make gateway pages designed specifically to catch people who search for Foo and shower them with ads and links to lots and lots of things that may or may not have anything to do with Foo. You, the Foo-searcher, know that _somewhere_ out there is a definitive Foo site, but it’s that much harder to find because you have to wade through all these stupid adFoo pages in your Google results before you find the right one. The more popular the Foo, the worse the problem is.

Anyway, you’ll come across the biggest adFoo blight on the Internet any time you try to do a search for music lyrics. Do like I did and google {“American Idiot” lyrics}. Is there an official site, a well-organized fan site, or a Greenday-specific site of any kind to be found in the first page of results? Nope. Take a peek at a few of the pages that _are_ there and you’ll quickly see what I mean. It’s not just the ads — just as bad is the fact that all those adFoo sites have absolutely atrocious design. They could care less how they look or how usable they are — they just want to get a couple clickthroughs out of you.

(I did finally find a good fansite with the lyrics. It’s only a “political” album if all you look at are the first couple songs. All in all the lyrics are pretty disappointing though. Some characters and conceits tie things together and make for a concept album, I suppose, but there’s not much to be said for the wordplay otherwise. The music rocks, though.)

One Harmful Cheeseburger

“Ed Heil has the skinny”: on the best April Fool’s joke of the day. ‘Cept that it’s real.

UPDATE: OK, now the link actually points to the right thing, as opposed to another, much more obscure, April Fool’s joke. Sorry ’bout that.

Polytropos Reborn

OK, finally, the blog is back in shape, more or less. For the record, I am a dimwit. Prior to doing a clean install of Movable Type, I did not . . .

* . . . read any sort of help file or other guideline that might have smoothed the process.
* . . . check to see whether the export file with all my entries contained indexing information. (I just assumed that it did. It did not.)
* . . . make a mirror backup of the whole site so I could rollback if necessary.
* . . . think to re-install plugins before importing the entries.

These are all things that I would have told someone _else_ to do if they asked me for advice. Why I didn’t do them for myself I can’t adequately explain, except to fall back on the “frazzled parenthood” defense, which I hate to resort to more than I must. But there’s something to it in this case — most of the upgrade activity took place in five and ten-minute blocks of time that I was hoping wouldn’t be interrupted by having to read _Ten Apples Up On Top_ for the fourth time in one day.

Though I am obviously not very clueful, I am clueful enough to know that everything went wrong because of user stupidity, so I have reason whatsoever to be bitter at Movable Type — though I was often tempted to be, and I can now see why it is that so many users fall back on the “lousy software” excuse when they’re the ones mucking up the works. There _is_ lousy software out there, to be sure, but MT ain’t it.

Anyway. Polytropos is now sporting the updated template, and thus a new stylesheet, but I’ve managed to get things looking pretty close to what they were like before. The background shading in the text area is the big exception, because it’s not as easy to do under the new template. I’ll figure it out eventually. I cleaned up the sidebar a little bit, and added a category listing.

As a result of the ill-fated upgrade, many internal links were irrevocably broken, so I just bit the bullet and switched to the newer (and more sensible) indexing system, wherein entries are archived with text names based on their titles, in dated subdirectories, instead of just with numbers. As a result _all_ links between entries became broken by definition. I have fixed all of them from the current year and for those entries linked under Highlights in the sidebar. The rest I’ll fix someday, maybe. This also means that all external links _to_ individual Polytropos entries are now broken. I apologize for this; fortunately it’s happening at a time when not too many people are linking to me anyway.

Also, for some reason, many older entries had their dashes and quotation marks global-replaced with question marks. This may have been a problem before that I just never noticed. In any case, there, too, I only fixed the Highlighted entries, and will get to the rest -when monkeys leap out of my- someday.

Oh, and as for that trackback spam — one of the ostensible reasons for performing this upgrade in the first place — it appears to have stopped, but not because of anything to do with the new version or the clean install. I discovered that in order for MT-Blacklist to auto-update with the latest spam database, you have to tweak a couple settings and change something in (I think) mt.cfg. And how, you ask, did I figure this out? _I read the instructions_. Stunning.