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December 14, 2010

Term’s over. Got an essay to write for the first week back, but right now January 10 is a long way away and the vexed question of presentations of gender in the Passio Ss. Perpetuae et Felicitatis feels like it can wait a few days.

It’s becoming clear that I underestimated just how exhausted this degree would leave me. I don’t know whether it’s the volume of reading, the mental exertion, or the commuting – most probably some of all of them – but I come home and I just don’t want to do anything that doesn’t involve tasty food or the Internet. Blargh.

Department of Compressed Meat Products

The blog has had an uptick in traffic in recent months, and along with that has come the inevitable uptick in spam comments. Back when I started I’d get a couple of spams a month; now, it’s up to three or four a day. I have had spam comments in English, French, Spanish, German (lots of roulette spambots in German), Russian (mainly porn, these ones) and at least one script that got rendered only as boxes.

Some of them are the standard lists of links, but some attempt to be cleverer and attach a spam username to a less-obviously-spam comment. I say less obviously; they’re still pretty damn obvious, being usually just long swathes of randomly generated prose.

I got one this morning that was utterly adorable, though: any spambot that can begin its pitch with “pop porn William Butler Yeats” has a place in my heart.

Department of Unfortunate Signage

Spotted on the side of a bus this morning: an NHS/police ad for the domestic abuse helpline. Except in one of those supremely unfortunate accidents, the first panel of the ad had come off, leaving behind only “… be a victim of domestic violence this Christmas.” Ick.

On a lighter note, the Smith’s at the station had a sign advertising “Stationary presents for Christmas!” Why yes, it’s a lot less inconvenient to have presents that don’t run away when you try to wrap them.

Department of Kinkspam Linkspam (Hurray for typos!)

If you are familiar with two or more Lives of early-medieval women saints, you might have noticed that large numbers of them follow the essential pattern of “Young Christian woman of noble birth defies father’s wishes, is thrown into prison, tempted by demons, horribly tortured, horribly executed, miracles, the end.” Here, in a much better and way more hilarious form, is the inevitable result of same: Hagiography Mad Libs.

In further medieval-related hilarity, I present The Pelagian Heresy Drinking Song! (For best results, try singing to the tune of Monty Python’s Philosophers Song.)

Following up from the success of Cheese or Font?, I give you perhaps its spiritual successor: Steakhouse or Gay Bar?

And to make a trifecta of guessing games on the internet, the glorious arXiv vs. snarXiv. A spot of background for non-scientists: arXiv (the X is properly a chi, χ) is an online archive of research papers. SnarXiv is an online program that generates fake titles and abstracts of research papers, gently making fun of how a) formulaic and b) bizarre such titles often are. The game presents you with one title pulled from arXiv and one from snarXiv, and challenges you to guess which is real.

(Management accepts no liability for loss of productivity incurred from any of the above.)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 4:26 pm

    arXiv vs. snarXiv is the only one of those guessing games which I can beat (i.e. do any better than pure chance); generally because snarXiv isn’t (yet) good enough at working out what words should go together. It can’t tell that anthropic approaches (i.e. looking at our place in the universe) are not the right way to go about solving the flavour problem (to do with how particle physics breaks down at high energies). Perhaps if it can start grouping words together, it will become much harder to beat. I must admit though, I didn’t expect “Dynamical Casimir Effect for Gravitons in Bouncing Braneworlds” to be real.

    On an unrelated note, I’ve had a strange increase in spam lately too – not sure whether its to do with an increase in traffic, or just that being around longer means more spambots have discovered me. My favourite spam comment I’ve had so far was one from someone claiming to be Hamid Karzai flogging porn (and also tips for how to stop your dog pissing on your flowerbeds). Not sure quite why the spammer thought Karzai was a figure people would readily associate with trustworthy pornography.

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