Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spammers. Again.

Six comments! Six comments, at time of writing, on my last post!

And every single one of them was spam.

I can't begin to describe how much I loathe spammers. If you were to catch one, tie it spreadeagled in the sun, spread marmalade all over it and then drop a hornets' nest on its face, I would consider that a good start. These are the scum who wrecked Usenet, who ruined e-mail, who have forced search engines to adopt a war footing, and now have turned their attention to little personal blogs like this one.

But how can I stop them?

Captchas (those stupid wonky letters you have to type in, to prove you're a human) have past their window of usefulness. I often find myself stumbling over them, and I suspect that for particularly tough ones (such as Google's), computers may now be better at reading them than humans.

Moderation? That would require me to log in pretty much every day, to check for new comments. I would consider it pretty rude to leave comments hanging around for longer than necessary. And I'm a busy person, I don't have that kind of time nowadays.

Disable anonymous commenting? That would disqualify some of the people I most like to hear from, including most of my family.

Join Facebook? That would combine the disadvantages of having a non-public blog with the drawback of never hearing from my family again, to say nothing of the downside of having to log in regularly and the nuisance of giving untold insights on my life to one of the world's most evil companies.

The suggestion box is open. Even if you don't know what to do to keep spammers out, I'm always interested in innovative and painful ways of punishing them. Let your imagination go wild.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

These Americans are crazy.

President Obama has discovered a new way of fighting wars, at a fraction of the cost (in blood and money) of the usual methods. There's a lot of debate to be had about drone strikes, but of all the possible arguments they could be rehearsing, the huge majority of Americans seem to be locked into the silliest one imaginable: whether it's OK to use them on American citizens.

I went to the lengths of looking up the rights attached to US citizenship. Nowhere does it mention "the right not to be killed by the US military, if it considers it necessary or expedient to do so".

The law that stands between me and anyone who wants to kill me is the law against murder, in whatever country I happen to be in at the time. And in every country I know of, that law says nothing about the citizenship of the victim. Murdering an American is no more, and no less, illegal than murdering a Pakistani, or a Saudi, or a Briton, or even a Frenchman. Obama may be breaking Yemeni law by launching drone strikes into Yemen, but to argue that he's violating US law by aiming them at US citizens is just wrong, on at least two very fundamental levels: by applying US law to what happens in Yemen, and by differentiating between murder victims by citizenship.

Just to put things in perspective: Abraham Lincoln ordered the killing of hundreds of thousands of US citizens. On US soil, no less. History does not generally condemn him for that.

Of all the things that Obama is (arguably) doing wrong, this simply isn't one.