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Luke Melia

2/28/03, 11:25am – Big Byrd

Robert Byrd Senator Robert Byrd on the costs of an Iraq war:

Hiding information from the public to rally support behind a war, at the very time when the government should be striving for maximum trust will eventually undermine our nation’s strength. This conflict will be paid for with the people’s treasure and the people’s blood. This is no time to affront that sacrifice with beltway spin and secrecy.

This Senator has an oratorical flare that serves as a worthy foil to the Bush/Rove ad-spin-istration. Thanks to Kris for the link.

2/27/03, 5pm – Quittin’ Time

Getting ready to head out to a volleyball match. We’re up against the first place team tonight. With our new, improved four-person serve receive, I think we’ve got a good shot at beating them.

After playing some sand volleyball the other night, I went out for drinks with some other players to Tortilla Flats in the West Village. I love the quiet cobblestone streets of that neighborhood.

It happened to be Bingo night at Tortilla Flats (as it is every Monday and Tuesday, I discovered) and though we didn’t win any games, it was fun. Especially entertaining was gutter-ball bingo, where the object is to match the bottom row of your card and the bingo calls are mere punctuations in an endless stream of expletives. O69 was a popular call with the crowd.

This afternoon, I spent time perusing “Get Your War On”, having completed my most recent project at work. Amusing, but depressing.

New on this site is a bit of integration with Amazon’s web services, to present album covers when I’m listening to music via iTunes at home or work. While I was hacking around, I added an RSS 2.0 feed. I didn’t read any of the whole blog-land debate about RSS 0.91, 1.0 and 2.0, but 2.0 seems to be catching on.

Game time now.

2/21/03, 1:15 am – The Web and the City

On Wednesday, the BBC ran a piece on the US’s plans to design and build new nuclear weapons, based on a leaked document. That story hasn’t been picked up in any of the American news outlets I follow. What’s up with that?

I went to see an exhibit of new works by Robert Indiana (you know, the LOVE sculpture guy) at the Paul Kasmin Gallery today. Fun, poppy, done in 10 minutes.

Lots of hits coming in to this site related to the Colorado Springs tear gas incident. It didn’t seem to get much national news coverage. How often do police use tear gas in the U.S.? Do people shrug it off as a harmless deterrent? The American Medical Association doesn’t.

Related to my last post… the SpamAssassin developers (aka my saviors) have released SpamAssassin 2.50. It’s got Bayesian filtering and auto-learning. Brilliant!

On a humorous note… I always wondered what Dick Cheney was doing at his undisclosed, secure location. Turns out he’s posting to his blog.

More lightness… Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo had a funny post during the blizzard last weekend.

We lost our volleyball match tonight, 0-3. Twas ugly. That will drop us to third place. The team is practicing together this weekend.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb

2/18/03, 3:33pm – SpamAssassin

While on vacation, I got fed up with spam. Because I check mail so frequently when I’m in New York, I hadn’t noticed how many messages I delete on arrival.

Thankfully, I have a solution. Well, more of a workaround than a solution. A solution would be what James Gleick identifies in his NYT Magazine piece Tangled Up in Spam: legislation. But a workaround offers me the relief I need for now.

I set up SpamAssassin on my account at pair.com, where this site and some of my email functionality is very capably hosted. SpamAssassin has a set of rules that it uses to score each email message you receive for the likelihood that it is spam. The rules themselves are pretty amusing to review.

So far so good. Accuracy has been 100% in my 24 hours of testing.

I’d prefer to use software which implements Bayesian spam filtering. That seems like a more elegant and robust workaround to the problem. However, I like the ability to check my POP3 account from a variety of clients and locations, which seems to preclude the easy feedback mechanism necessary to educate a Bayesian filter.

Some useful resources in my SpamAssassin setup process were this tutorial on Setting up SpamAssasin on pair.com, the man page for procmail, and pair’s “mail” newsgroup on news.pair.com.

Also, FWIW, I posted the solution I ended up with here on my site: Setting up SpamAssassin with qmail at pair.com.

2/16/03, 8:14 pm – Protesting in Colorado Springs

Or… “How I nearly got tear-gassed on my winter vacation.”

On Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I checked out the Hotel Monaco in downtown Denver, and had the valet pull around our mountain-dirt covered rental car. Friday was the one semi-luxurious day of our vacation, and I would have preferred to sleep in and enjoy the feather bed for a few more hours. But February 15th had been selected as a major day of anti-war protest, and we wanted to do our part.

I was bummed not to be able to march with friends and family in hometown New York City, but a search on United for Peace had turned up a reference to a state-wide Colorado protest being planned in Colorado Springs.

We stopped for some breakfast at “The Market” in Larimer Square and hit the highway south-bound towards the Springs.

Colorado Springs is a big military town as well as a the home to several extreme right-wing organizations including Focus on the Family. It’s not an urban city the way D.C. or New York is. I was curious to see what the protest would be like there.

As we neared the protest site (Palmer Park), I was relieved to see cars parked everywhere and people walking down the sidewalks, My fear of being two of 25 people in attendance were dispelled. There were more than 500 people present when we arrived at the rally site, and that number later swelled to 1,500 to 3,000 people, according to various news estimates.

The speakers were pretty good, and there were plenty of entertaining signs to look at. After the speakers finished and a political theater group performed, the crowd walked over to the road running alongside the park, Academy Boulevard. The plan was to line both sides of the road for a few miles and hold up signs, sing and otherwise get the attention of the thousands of cars traveling the four-lane road.

This strategy worked pretty well. We got plenty of honks of support, lots of two-fingered peace salutes out of car windows, and a much smaller percentage of middle fingers. That was impressive considering what I understood the make-up of Colorado Springs to be. It seemed to be a good approach to protest in a automobile culture, which Colorado surely is.

Initially, the small police presence was mostly concerned with keeping people out of the road and off the median. A few different contingents decided to stop traffic at various points in the street, and this drew considerable police attention. I guess they called in backup, too. A police helicopter began to circle overhead.

The police closed down the road that the demonstration had lined. This nullified the attention-getting strategy of the protest, and so we began to move to the next major intersection, where we could stand with our signs and let others know that they are not alone in thinking this war on Iraq is not such a good idea.

As we walked, we saw a young woman get arrested. She was standing on the median, holding a sign, and refused to move when police asked her to. We watched the scene with a representative from Denver CopWatch, who though that the police present were quite disorganized and didn’t seem to know how to handle the situation.

A few minutes later, a group of about twenty cops in full riot gear formed into a group at the end of the still-closed down highway. Rumors of tear gas spread through the crowd. I was somewhat blasé about the vague threat, but Jeanhee had experienced tear gas up close and personal some years ago in South Korea. She convinced me to keep a healthy distance.

The scene was somewhat farcical — police in full riot gear nervously marching along a highway surrounded by people singing “Give Peace a Chance” and holding signs. I didn’t see a single protester act in a violent or threatening manner.

This silliness continued until about 2:30 in the afternoon. The rally had originally begun at 11. I had started to head back to the car, when I noticed that every cop in the area had a gas mask on. We noticed a distinct smell of vinegar, and a few minutes later saw a cloud go up over the intersection where the remaining protesters were.

Fortunately, we were upwind of the scene, and far enough away to escape any effects of the gas. The police succeeded in getting the crowd to disperse, if that was their goal.

The experience was surreal to me, and still feels that way. The tear-gas attack came without a clear cause. (Perhaps it was a “pre-emptive” strike?) It also was without a clear goal. If the police concern was traffic safety (which I understand and consider a reasonable concern), hadn’t they already implemented a solution by shutting down car access to the road?

I discussed with Jeanhee and some others at the rally whether or not the protest was effective given the circumstances. I’d say it would have been more effective if we had been able to send our message to more drivers; if protesters had stayed out of the highway and the police had behaved more reasonably. But I still think it was a very effective day, especially considering the resulting media coverage, and considering it in the context of the other protests around the globe on Saturday.

Related links:

2/12/03, 12:24 am – Hello from Denver

Having a blast snowboarding here. Rode Keystone yesterday, A Basin today. Great veggie dinner in Boulder tonight at Sunflower. More boarding on deck for tomorrow: Copper. Some more boarding after that, a little Valentine’s Day romance, some antiwar protesting Saturday, and I’ll be back before you know it.

For the amusing story of my Denver lacrosse outing, see my post on Travelin’ Van. Go Mammoths!!!

2/8/03 – 12:47 am – War? Work? Volleyball? Vacation.

I’m frustrated with the war plans. I’m bitter. I’m pissed off.

Powell made the case in front of the UN that Saddam and his cadre are lying, cheating militants. But my dad had already convinced me of that. I don’t want to be part of the deaths of hundreds (thousands? more?) of Iraqi civilians. I don’t want my tax money going to support a military bent on preemptive nuclear strike. I don’t want my military spending money that we don’t have bombarding Iraq with more artillery on Day 1 of a war than the country saw in the entire Gulf War. Not in my name! The response to Powell’s speech by International ANSWER is worth a read.

Work has taken a turn for the more interesting lately. Getting the hang of the ASP.NET / C# stuff. Getting an introduction to the fascinating world of television I.T., too.

Week 2 of our volleyball season was rough. We dominated our first game, and then got crushed in games 2 and 3. It was fairly demoralizing. After some soul-searching and strategizing, we won two out of three in Week 3’s games. We should end up some where in the top three when the standings come out Monday.

On the sand volleyball front, I had one of my best nights last Tuesday. I stepped onto the court with the attitude that I was going to play my best game, no matter who I am playing with or up against. My level of play was perhaps the highest it’s been, and my jump serves and hits we’re coming in hard and reliably. I enjoying playing sand even when I have a bad day, but when it all works, it’s pure joy!

I’m on hiatus from those parts of my life though. I’m officially on vacation, and will fly tomorrow to Denver with Jeanhee. We’re visiting her friend there and doing some snowboarding/skiing/wiping out on the slopes there. Woo-whee!

2/8/03 – 12:46 am – Around the Web

The most fun web project to launch in a while is Anthony and Liz’s Travelin’ Van. Be sure to dig into the stats and gimmicks. I’m going to enjoy following this. Direct from Anthony.

What magazines are Americans reading? Ad Age has the Top 200. Hat tip Jen Leo.

The New Scientist article on hiccups made for a fascinating bus ride discussion yesterday. Via Slashdot. Note: I can no longer think about hiccups with out hiccuping. [hic]

Backpack Nation’s goal is to send backpackers out with $10K to find someone in a developing country in need of another $10K. Dad called with the URL and encouragement to apply and quit my job.

I cringed in recognition several times as I read the W3C’s Common HTTP Implementation Problems. Hat tip: Wes Felter.

Semi-famous people whose blogs I’ve just discovered: William GibsonDave BarryJeremy Allaire

2/8/02, 12:25am – Ripped Off

I thought it highly unlikely when it arrived in my inbox today, but then it started appearing on CNN, ABC, The NY Times. Britain plagiarized the majority of its dossier on Iraq’s tactics of weapon concealment.

It wasn’t long ago that Condoleeza Rice disdainfully charged Iraq with plagiarism (4th paragraph down). The British case is not even one of good information unethically presented. The grad student who wrote the copied article, said “I am surprised, flattered as well …. Had they consulted me, I could have provided them with more updated information.”

I thought this sort of incompetence was the province of party-school undergrads and corporations…

LukeMelia.com created 1999. ··· Luke Melia created 1976. ··· Live With Passion!
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