Vicki Leon in the LA Times

The excellent Vicki Leon, who pops in to comment on this blog from time to time, and who wrote Working IX to V, and The Joy of Sexus, today has an opinion piece on the assassination of JFK published in the LA Times.

It's very much worth reading.

Vicki also has a previous piece in the LA Times.  She suggested that killers who do it for the notoriety would be less inclined if there was a perpetual ban on publicizing their crimes or their names.  She uses as her example what happened to the guy who burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in 356BC.  (It's the same temple that my heroine Diotima works at in The Ionia Sanction, and it was indeed destroyed by arson).

To find out what they did to him, here is Vicki's article.

I thought as much

I know funny error messages on web sites are common, but this one confirms something I've long suspected.  This from one of GOOGLE's own services:

500 Internal Server Error
Sorry, something went wrong.

A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.
If you see them, show them this information: ...

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad

Your quiz for today:  who said "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad"?

Was it Shakespeare?  Was it Homer?


If you googled for the answer, you probably think Euripides.  This is a classic example of something being repeated on the internet so much that people think it must be true.  The answer isn't Euripides.

In its usual wording as above, it comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  But he was rephrasing a saying that goes back more than 2,500 years.  The earliest use I know of is the play Antigone, where Sophocles quotes a version, which I've stolen from the Perseus translation:
For with wisdom did someone once reveal the maxim, now famous,
that evil at one time or another seems good,
to him whose mind a god leads to ruin.
Sophocles then adds:
But for the briefest moment such a man fares free of destruction.
Which is a variant of, "Well it seemed like a good idea at the time!"

And as the text makes clear, by the time of classical Athens it was already considered an old saying.  The origin must go back into prehistory.  Which is rather cool really for such a subtle idea.

Death of the China Bots

Something changed on the net a few weeks ago that I think is rather interesting.  If you run a web site you might have noticed the same.  The Chinese bots suddenly disappeared from my blog.

Web site stats for a long time now have been flooded with obvious robots, all running out of China, flooding every web site with hits.  I presume they're looking for anywhere they can put spam.   Or a more sinister interpretation would be they're probing for weaknesses to break in.  Since the Chinese government runs one of the most repressive firewalls in the world I can only assume it's being done with government approval.

Then a few weeks ago, suddenly, overnight, the number of hits from Chinese bots fell to almost zero.  It might have been a random glitch, except it stayed at almost zero for days that turned into weeks.  Now I'm seeing the bot numbers slowly creep up again.  But they're still less than 10% of what they used to be.

I can only suggest one of these possibilities:
  1. All of China has decided I am boring.  This is quite possible.
  2. The Chinese government has decided to block their online criminals.  This is incredibly unlikely.
  3. Western nations have quietly decided to block the packets of Chinese spammers and cyber criminals.  Since this would require western governments to make a  sensible decision about the net it is virtually impossible.
  4. Google has quietly blocked the Chinese spammers from their servers.  This is quite likely.  A lot of those bots are used to artificially click ad links to make money for the web sites.  What you do is create a zillion web sites with ad and buy links to major stores.  Then for a few thousand dollars you rent from a cyber criminal a botnet to click your links tens of millions of times and thus make a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue.   Which is ripping off Google's customers.  So it makes sense that Google might have decided to block the bots.  
I'd be interested to know what's happening.