Monday, December 18

Maybe I should be flattered.

Sometime on Friday, I started getting really pointless comments on this blog: just random strings of numbers and letters, popping up on loads of different posts, not just recent ones. They were flooding in. So I logged into Haloscan (the third party who provide this blog's commenting facility), and turned on comment moderation and IP-banned the commenters, which took me all of two minutes. Problem solved.

"Hmm," I thought, "a denial-of-service attack? Against Haloscan? Why?" Sure enough, Haloscan went down a little while later, for a few minutes. It seemed like a lot of effort to bring down a site that merely provides a free commenting service to anyone who wants it, and for such a short time. It's not as if they're poltiical. It did rather look like the attackers had put themselves to far more inconvenience than they'd managed to cause their attackee.

Then over the weekend I got an email from to say that their site had been taken down by a major DoS attack, had been down for two-and-a-half days, that other sites were affected, and that lots of engineers were working on stopping the attack. Gosh. Their site's up again now, so I suppose the excitement's over.

So it looks like Haloscan weren't the target; I was, along with a bunch of other (presumably) dangerous right-wing neocon warmongering etceteras. I had no idea my little old blog was such a threat. Cool.

Of course, my host's servers were affected hardly at all, as the attack concentrated on posting comments, and my comments, like so many other people's, are hosted externally. Great for me, a bugger for Haloscan, and really bloody stupid of the attackers.

Friday, December 15

The absurd side of royalism.

Just as a really very plain and dull girl becomes The World's Most Beautiful Woman Ever!!! just because she marries a prince, similarly, she can't be allowed to die without some absurd fairy-tale explanation. If only MI5 had thought of putting her to sleep for a hundred years as a punishment for pricking her finger on a spinning-wheel, no-one would have suspected a thing.

This has to be one of the most insane wastes of public money ever. The only reason for the inquiry was pressure from conspiracy theorists. Some eejit in our Government thought that you could calm conspiracy theorists down by holding an official state-run enquiry. Someone up there actually thought that a significant number of people would, in the light of this report, say "You know, I had thought it was an assassination by Mossad to prevent an alliance between the Church of England and Islam, but I see now that I was wrong: it was just a car crash after all. You live and learn."

Now, how about a full public inquiry into every other car crash in Paris? Or perhaps into the Moon landings?

Monday, December 11

Skin and red paint.

It's possible to make leather out of the skin of any animal, you know. (Fact fans might be interested to know that the best quality leather comes, perhaps surprisingly, from ostriches.)

So, if we were to send the pelts of fifty lovely little freshly-skinned chinchillas to a tanner rather than a furrier prior to selling the result to Madonna, she would end up with a hideously expensive jacket that would not only arouse zero outrage but would also look considerably less shite than the one she did, in fact, buy.

I have heard the argument that the reason fur is more reprehensible than leather is that leather comes from animals that are killed for meat, whereas fur is from animals that are killed for their fur, their meat being discarded as a waste product. Firstly, this strikes me as somewhat selectively and stupidly squeamish. Either you come to terms with the idea of killing animals or you don't. What's so noble about killing them for food rather than clothing? It's not like we humans live in the tooth and claw of the wild and would die if we didn't eat meat; vegetarian diets are perfectly nutritious, even if you don't like the flavour. Eating meat is every bit as much a selfish choice made to satisfy your own personal taste as is wearing fur. You, personally, may be at ease with killing for food but not for clothing, and that's fine, but I hardly think that that position is so morally unassailable that you can justify screams of outrage from the mob at anyone who feels differently.

Secondly, where's all the outrage directed at vegetarians who wear leather? For them, it's not a waste product. It puzzles me, actually, that so many vegetarians who won't touch gelatine or rennet — waste products both — are content to wear leather shoes.

People forget what the original reason for the anti-fur campaigns of the Twentieth Century was. Fur often came from endangered species. Some tribesman would trek into the Amazon, kill one of four rare jungle cats left in existence, sell the pelt for, oh, 50p, and it would eventually be sold to some ugly woman with a cigarette holder for a million squillion gajillion pounds. This, for a whole raft of reasons that I shouldn't need to explain, was a problem. A problem completely and utterly solved by fur-farming. Chinchillas, in fact, are a pretty good example: they were hunted into endangerment back in the days when fur came from the wild; now, they're farmed, and not so endangered. Great.

Of course, there are plenty of good arguments to be made against fur-farming on anti-cruelty grounds. Not a single one of those arguments applies to fur without also applying to meat, leather, and milk.

Let's be honest here. Madonna has been singled out for attack for two reasons. One: chinchillas are cute. Two: meat tastes good.

Friday, December 8

Another stupid thing.

The car park at the Ulster Hospital is notoriously annoying in many ways, the most obvious of which is that a private company gets to charge patients good money to park in a facility built using those patients' taxes on land bought with those patients' taxes. Then there's the way that the entry and exit barriers keep going out of sync, so that the machine lets you in when there aren't actually any spaces free and then, having eventually discovered this, you have to pay to get back out, but there aren't any ticket machines in the car park itself, so you have to park your car in order to do so. Having recently spent far too much time there, I've noticed another.

A lot of the spaces are for disabled people only, which is fair enough, and it must be one of the few car parks in the universe where this is actually enforced: park in one of those spaces without a blue badge and you'll get clamped. The problem with this, which seems to have occurred to no-one, is that this is a hospital. The car park is used every day by hundreds of people who are genuinely disabled but don't yet have their official blue disabled badges because they weren't disabled a couple of days ago. Obviously.

Wednesday, December 6

Another great spam subject line.

Their approach is getting more sophisticated every day, I must say.

Two panels focussed on the problematic definition of harmful.