November 23, 2004
I'm Back, At Least For The Moment

I have finally turned comments back on, after taking precautions suggested by a commenter on this post at The Spoons Experience. More in a moment.

Five minutes later: Well, it's not working yet.

Update: (11:42 PM)

Well, that sucks. I can't post comments, but at least one spam comment has slipped through. Back to the drawing-board. In the mean time, comments are off again: I don't want to wake up to another 150+ spams tomorrow.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:33 PM
November 07, 2004
More Advice Needed

All of my blogs (Dr. Weevil, Curculio, Write It Right, and a couple of dormant spin-offs) are being inundated with a flood of comment-spam. Yesterday alone I deleted 200 comments from Dr. Weevil. Between my 6 1/2-year-old computer, the dial-up connection, and Earthlink's sluggish host-machine, it took over three hours. The latest spammers were very slick about attaching each comment to a different post, not posting to sequential posts, and using a large selection of URLs.

Like Jim Treacher, I have turned off comments on all of my blogs until I can come up with a foolproof spam-repellent. The one exception is a new blog I've been thinking of launching, called Orbilius. Since it didn't have any entries yet, I've put a copy of this post there and turned comments on for that blog only. With only one post, I can easily delete any quantity of comment-spam.

Advice is much appreciated, but please read these provisos first:

  1. Call me cheap, but I don't want to spend any money.
  2. If at all possible, the method has to work on MT 2.0 and 3.0. Though I don't recall the URLs, I've read more than one site-owner complaining that an MT upgrade had wiped out all his comments. I don't want to risk that, and have stuck with the versions I began with (2.0 for Dr. Weevil, 3.0 for the rest).
  3. Closing old comments doesn't seem to work. I have used the MT Editing menus to close hundreds of comments 'by hand' on both of my main sites, that is, I have unchecked 'allow comments' for each one individually. Nevertheless, spammers continue to leave comments on all of them.
    (I even get comments attached to posts I haven't written yet. I don't know how that can be possible, but it happens. When I go into the Editing menu and delete a comment, I am taken to the post to which it was attached. About a quarter of the time, that post is blank.)
  4. I don't want to install a complex registration system. There are some sites I rarely visit any more because I've been unable to figure out how to leave a comment. I don't want to be like them.
  5. I would like to ask the commenter to type in a number displayed as a picture, so spam-spiders can't read it. Can any of my readers tell me how difficult this is to implement, and where to find the software?

If you have any advice to give, please go to Orbilius and post it in the comments there. The sooner I solve the problem, the sooner I can turn comments on again here -- not to mention posting on more interesting matters.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:38 AM
November 04, 2004
Information Needed

If anyone has the percentages for the presidential votes in TX, WY, MA, and NC accurate to the tenth of a percent, I would really like to see them. I forgot to buy a newspaper this morning and none of the websites I can get to gives anything better than whole percentages. It appears from Mark Steyn's latest announcement that James Taranto edged me out for the prize in this category, and I want to see how close I came. Perhaps I can hire one of Kerry's 10,000 lawyers to sue for a recount: they don't have much else to do this week.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:14 PM
All Clear On The Nasal Front

I've only seen three of the alleged four cats (see previous post) and petted two -- the littlest one is very skittish --, but eight hours in a house with the cats, two emotionally needy lapdogs, some birds and a bunch of fish, plus half a dozen other humans, left my nose and sinuses unscathed. I imagine that means my hay fever is not animal but vegetable or possibly mineral in nature.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:11 PM
November 03, 2004

Today was a good day all around: I have a new job and John Kerry doesn't. After four months of unemployment, I was interviewed and hired this morning for a congenial position. I start tomorrow, and get my first paycheck Friday.

One possible hitch: I don't know whether I'm allergic to cats -- my brother is -- and the office has four of them. Assuming I'm not, that's rather a plus. If I am, there's always Claritin. Between asthma and hay fever, I have the sniffles half the time anyway.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:20 PM
What Do I (Maybe) Win?

My predictions below mostly turned out wildly off the mark, but the one section where I just threw out numbers without checking any polls at all is quite close: question 8, how well each candidate would do in his home state. If you're too lazy to scroll down, I guessed 61.1% and 71.3% for the Bush-Cheney vote in Texas and Wyoming, 62.2% and 43.1% for Kerry-Edwards in Massachusetts and North Carolina. I was two points (or 2.3) off on Wyoming, but otherwise spot on, as far as I can tell, since the various networks report the numbers as 61%, 69%, 62%, and 43%. It would be nice if they would give tenths of a percent. Unfortunately, I haven't found a website yet that doesn't round off to integers, and I can't calculate the tenths myself, because the totals at (e.g.) CNN's site do not give any totals for the really minor -- 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th party -- candidates or for voters who left the top slot blank. Will final results, with tenths, be in tomorrow's dead-tree WP or NYT? I'm on tenterhooks, waiting to see if someone else came even closer . . . also wondering what the prize is if I win, since Steyn has taken down the contest announcement now that it's too late to join. (Hope he doesn't substitute cheaper prizes!)

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:15 PM
November 02, 2004
Am I Too Fond Of Puns?

NRO titled this post about the Horserace website "Horserace says Nay". At first, I misread it as "Horseface" and assumed it referred to one of the candidates. Either way, "nay" would be the appropriate sound effect, so I guess I'm not the only one too fond of puns.

Comments are turned on now for at least the next half-hour. I hope the perv-spammers have all gone away and killed themselves from shame.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 06:21 PM

Comments have been turned off again, due to a flood of the kind of spam that makes the previous very explicit gay po*n messages sound relatively tasteful. I'll turn them on again in an hour or so.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 05:17 PM
If Wishes Were Horses . . . .

Nine days ago, I sent in my submission for Mark Steyn's election prediction contest. It seems only fair to list them here, so my readers can laugh at everything I got wrong. Many of these are just random guesses, and some are in fact not what I thought most likely, but what I thought most likely of all the possibilities that would not necessarily have been claimed by others before I sent mine in. My guesses, which may involve a fair amount of wishful thinking:

  1. Popular vote: Bush 52.9, Kerry 44.2
  2. Electoral vote: Bush by 359-179 (I can dream, can't I? I should have included at least one faithless elector and made it add up to 537, like last time, to cut down on the chances that someone else would have picked my numbers first.)
  3. Last state to declare: HI (Too obvious for anyone else to pick?)
  4. States that will switch sides:
    Bush to Kerry: None
    Kerry to Bush: NJ
  5. Maine split: 3-1 for Bush. (Unlikely, but I figure others had already claimed the other split, a Kerry sweep, and probably a Bush sweep, too. And it could happen.)
  6. Home state percentages:
    Bush in TX: 61.1
    Cheney in WY: 71.3
    Kerry in MA: 62.2
    Edwards in NC: 43.1
  7. Congressional balances:
    Senate: 56 Republican, 43 Democrats, 1 Jefford
    House: 237 Republicans, 197 Democrats, 1 Bernie Sanders
  8. Loser senatorial incumbents:
    Dem: Daschle (Too easy and obvious by now?)
    Rep: None
  9. Daschle's percentage: 48.7 (I would pick something lower if I sent this in today.)
  10. Run the Map:
    Kerry: CA, CT, HI, IL, MA, MD, 1/4 of ME (1 EV on split vote), MI, NY, RI, VT, WA, plus DC. (I forgot Delaware.)
    Bush: Everything else -- do I really need to list them?
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:48 PM
Well, That Was Easy

I just voted. It took nine minutes total, including the walks from and to my car. The polling place, in the poorer end of one of the richer suburbs of Baltimore, was quite crowded even at 9:50 AM, so it appears that turnout is high and Baltimore County did a good job of preparing for it. When I got in line, there were 5 people waiting for a place to open up at any one of roughly 20 machines. The electronic voting was quite straightforward, and there was at least one hard-copy safeguard: I had to sign a card and drop it in a manila envelope taped to the side of my machine. I trust the pollworkers will count the cards afterwards to see that the number of cards for each machine matches the total number of electronic votes recorded. If the numbers don't match, or the machine at any time displays the 'blue screen of death' and refuses to give any totals, they can at least theoretically contact all the people who voted on that machine and let them vote again, without violating the secrecy of the ballot.

My only complaint has to do with the secret ballot. Like the chad-punch devices in Bowling Green, Ohio, these have very little privacy. I much prefer a booth with a curtain, like the old-fashioned lever-action mechanical voting machines in Rochester, though I can see that there might be problems with providing curtains for electronic machines. Some might wonder whether a computer geek could diddle with the totals while voting or pretending to vote. Baltimore County voting machines are about as private as urinals: it would be very easy to look and see how the person in the next booth is voting, but it would also be easy for him or (in this case also) her to see that you were looking. As with urinals, it did appear that most people were keeping their eyes on their own affairs.

Update: (11:00 AM)

I forgot to mention that there were no visible signs for either side at my polling-place, a public elementary school gymnasium. On the left-hand sidewalk going in there was a blue sign that said "No Campaigning Beyond This Point" or words to that effect, but no one was there except a few voters going in and out. The right-hand sidewalk went past the front door of one of the classroom buildings. There was a clump of maybe a dozen people in the doorway with tables, but no signs I could see from the other side. (I guess I should have gone over and looked.) They looked like mostly students, so I suspect they were taking advantage of the opportunity to sell Girl Scout cookies or those overpriced chocolate bars that students are always peddling.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:23 AM