No soccer in Heaven

Today a question I’ve pondered for a long time was finally answered: which is more offensive to the dead, frisbees or soccer balls? Apparently it’s soccer balls that make corpses, um, roll over in their graves.

A friend and I went out for some outdoor fun on this beautiful Sunday (something I’ve missed terribly since taking up the office life this semester), keeping what we thought was a respectful distance from the Iwo Jima Memorial. A long period of Aerobie tossing passed without incident, but the moment we switched to kicking a soccer ball around an amiable park ranger informed us that ball sports were forbidden.

Perhaps the ranger was just being a little overly literal about park policy, but I’m going to take this as federal recognition that a well thrown Aerobie is indeed a spiritual thing.

Dagny, where art thou?

I admit that this hasn’t been a great year of dating for me, but please: may I never, ever, ever get this desperate.

Actually, this could be a really good way for certain people to meet each other for all I know, and I think it’s great that the Internet makes this kind of thing possible. The more I think about it, they could have a really good idea here if they didnít limit themselves to Ayn Rand junkies. Perhaps a site like All Consuming could become an effective matchmaker by correlating what its users are reading or have in their collections.

Here’s another way to do it, based on the Friendster model: users create the standard profile with personal information and photo, but then instead of linking to other users they link to cultural artifacts (favorite books, music, movies, etc.). The software could then display the other people who have the most shared links, with optional filters for sex, age, location, whatever. There may not be a woman out there who likes libertarian politics, evolutionary biology, Batman, Nietzsche, Meet the Press, and Paul Simon, but if there is I would love to meet her. Such a site would probably be the most viable way to make that happen.

Amazon.com even provides an efficient way to identify individual items. Everything they sell already has a unique ASIN number that would cover most books, music, and movies. Links to the various items could generate sales for Amazon, so there’s a quid pro quo for using their data. Associate referral fees could also accrue to the website, possibly making it financially self-sufficient. Standardizing things like TV shows and works of art/artists would be a more difficult task, but a doable one.

If this website (Culturster? Artifactster? Tastester? None of these names has a good ring to it, so let’s dispense with the Napster derivations) is ever made, it would be good for more than just matchmaking. It would also be good for discovering other things a user would be interested in based on the selections of people with similar taste.

So there you go, Internet entrepreneurs. Take the idea and run with it. I wonít even ask for a share of the profits if I get a girlfriend out of the deal.

Peer Pressure

Three new weblogs to debut today, all by my friends and fellow interns here in D. C. Say hi to Tommy Keswick, Court Knapp, and Jean-Michel Pecorella. They’re still somewhat works in progress (the blogs, not the authors), but they’re off to a good start (well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad).

C’mon, start a blog. Everybody’s doin’ it.

New kid on the blog

Mike Mott, the the Grover Cleveland of Slant editors, has thrown his hat into the blogosphere — and he may just destroy it. Check out The Blog to End All Blogs.

Also in the blog world: Mike Podguski tells a disturbing tale of pigeon hunting on the mean streets of DuPont Circle, and this blog surpassed 2000 visits/month for the first time as of a few days ago.

Conscription fiction

There was supposed to be a new Slant out today, but due to a server crash that issue has been delayed/canceled. Since my contribution would be overly dated by the time the next issue comes out, I’ve posted it here instead: Libertarians volunteer for draft boards. It pokes a little fun at my own political affiliation, which may not be a good idea right now in light of the response to my last Torch column.

The story is in response to the Guardian article referenced just a few posts ago. Thanks to Josh Keltner for some last minute formatting of the Hemingway pic.

Goodnight Seattle? Maybe not just yet

Rumor has it this may not be the last season of Frasier after all, mainly because NBC still hasn’t found a decent sitcom to replace it with. This is good news for me: the only sitcom I watch with any frequency stays on the air, and I get an extra year to achieve my modest goal of becoming less like Niles Crane and more like Frasier Crane. If it does go another season, let’s just hope the writers don’t run dry on romantic tensions to play up and end the show with the not-long-awaited marriage of Roz and Noel.

Torch is up

The November issue of The Torch is online. It includes the first letter to the editor from a member of the religious right written in response to one of my columns (Good for gays, good for liberty — the September issue). I’m so happy! I’ve always wanted to elicit a letter like this. It’s not worth going into a detailed reply, but I will note that the author misses the point by continuing to frame the debate in terms of “good” and “evil.” Homosexuality is increasingly seen as a morally neutral preference, which is why the Court could strike down the Texas anti-sodomy law on the grounds that the state could give no justification for its restriction of individual liberty.

My column this issue is my first foray into foreign policy, and in it I tackle my uneasiness with the way so many liberals (including libertarians) so stridently oppose(d) military action in Iraq. I argue that we should view the war as an experiment, perhaps a good one at that, and favor at least seeing it through to its conclusion. I’m open to later deciding that it was a terrible idea. For now, though, I’m withholding judgment.

AIM virus/worm

[Update 10/12/04: If you are looking for info on the Funner worm that spreads on MSN Messenger, read this article or this page from Symantec. Funner sends itself to everyone on a user's contact list and may try to download content from www.78p.com. Links via Slashdot.]

[Update 6/21/04: A number of commenters are reporting a new version of an AIM virus that closes task manager before the process can be ended. If you have this problem, commenter Tony recommends a program called Security Task Manager that can be downloaded here. This program should allow you to find the files responsible (perhaps "netstatt.exe"), stop them from running, and then delete them. Jay Loden's AIMFix is also working for some people, but that site is facing heavy server traffic and is not always available. A mirror of the fix is up at ftp://metafero.elon.edu/AIMFix.exe.

Jay has also provided these manual removal instructions:
1) For manual removal of the virus files, you will need to first end the processes [Note: not all files will exist on all computers]:
“YahooMsngr.exe”, “NETSTATT.exe”, “YahooMsgr.exe”, “wintcp.exe”, “lansrv.exe”, “idctup20.exe”, “fpjlfrllddpnsi.exe”, “svcl.exe”, “exhhulashk.exe”, “OSNERAOUSGZDPV.exe”, “winampa.exe”, “Data”, “Debug”, “Slideshow.exe”, “Payload.exe”, “MSCVT.exe”, “service.exe”, “zzqh.exe”, “zzb.exe”, “snd332.exe”, “aim1.exe”, “lsas.exe”, “taskmanage.exe”, “winxp.exe”, “download_me.exe”, “windowsupdater.exe”, “wuaumqr.exe”, “winupdat.exe”, “blengine.exe”, “ChannelUp.exe”, “hpztsb05.exe”, “av.exe”, “b.exe”, “bbb.exe”, “wucaumqr.exe”, “winampa”, “xlroue.exe”, “A0L.exe”, “iexpl0re.exe”, “svehost.exe”, “bvjlxjs.exe”, “gxmryzf.exe”, or “aocyvou.exe” (there are more, but I didnt have them all available at the time of posting)using DS Software’s Taskill utility available from

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~nulifetv/freezip/freeware/taskill.exe

and open it to see a list of running programs. Choose the process and select “Kill”.

2) Now you will need to search through the hard drive for the files “YahooMsngr.exe”, “NETSTATT.exe”, “YahooMsgr.exe”, “wintcp.exe”, “lansrv.exe”, “idctup20.exe”, “fpjlfrllddpnsi.exe”, “svcl.exe”, “exhhulashk.exe”, “OSNERAOUSGZDPV.exe”, “winampa.exe”, “Data”, “Debug”, “Slideshow.exe”, “Payload.exe”, “MSCVT.exe”, “service.exe”, “zzqh.exe”, “zzb.exe”, “snd332.exe”, “aim1.exe”, “lsas.exe”, “taskmanage.exe”, “winxp.exe”, “download_me.exe”, “windowsupdater.exe”, “wuaumqr.exe”, “winupdat.exe”, “blengine.exe”, “ChannelUp.exe”, “hpztsb05.exe”, “av.exe”, “b.exe”, “bbb.exe”, “wucaumqr.exe”, “winampa”, “xlroue.exe”, “A0L.exe”, “iexpl0re.exe”, “svehost.exe”, “bvjlxjs.exe”, “gxmryzf.exe”, or “aocyvou.exe”. These files would be hidden, and will require you to enable viewing of hidden files and folders.

To do this, click on the Tools menu in Explorer, then click Folder Options, and go to the View tab. (if you are on 98 this will be in the View menu) Now check the box next to “show hidden files and folders” and uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files” box. Now choose “apply to all folders” and click apply.

The files are usually located in “C:”, “C:\Windows”, “C:\Winnt”, “C:\Windows\System”, “C:\Winnt\System”, “C:\Windows\System32″, “C:\Winnt\System32″, “C:\Program Files\PSD Tools”, “C:\Program Files\PSDTools” or C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Applicaton Data”, though it varies on computer to computer.

3) Delete any of the files if they exist.

4) Please don’t forget to take the link out of your profile]

[Update 2/11/04: From a comment posted today: "I got the osama version yesterday, and I removed it without a problem... First of all, the processes run by this version are called "blengine" and "ChannelUp", so those are the ones to kill if you get this... Removing this virus is pretty much the same procedure that has been posted [below].”]

[Update 2/10/04: Traffic to this website doubled today, which can only mean one thing: there's a new AIM virus going around. This one has a link reading "check this out: http://www.wgutv.com/osama_capture.php?JVFD". I know nothing about this one, but once again J Loden has a fix for it on his site. I haven't tried it out since I don't have the virus, but you can do so here.]

[Update 1/13/04: J Loden is working on a fix for the new virus that puts "an0th3r pr0fil3 0wN3d By b1Ld0" into your profile. Go to his page here for removal instructions and, soon, and automated fix.]

[Update 12/21/03: Comment 35 links to a site with several AIM virus removal tools and it looks legit. So if you don't want to proceed with manual removal, check out Jay Loden's page.]

[Update 12/04/03: There is a new version of this spreading through a link reading something like "I can't believe I found %n's picture here hahaha." The new file name is probably av.exe or a.exe. Just follow the original directions for removing b.exe below or click here for more info.]

I don’t know if this is best classified as a virus or a worm, but whatever it is is spreading via Instant Messenger. The link was in my profile for a while, so my apologies if you got it from me. The link reads “Whoaaa….look at what I found, click here”. Don’t do that! It takes you to a page called talkstocks.net and immediately installs software you don’t want.

But if you did click the link, here are some things you can do to fix the problem. Now I’m no computer expert, so I’m not going to vouch for any these methods. The one I tried worked for me, though.

I followed the directions in Reply 9 on this page. First, edit your AIM profile to delete the link. Then hit ctrl-alt-delete and end the task “b.exe” (may also be “bbb.exe”). Finally, find the same file on your computer (probably in a windows folder) and delete that. Reply 9 lists an additional step to take the file off of the list of start-up tasks, but on my computer that had apparently taken care of itself after I deleted the file. [Additional 11/20/03: some users may need to click "processes" after hitting ctrl-alt-delete.]

From what I can tell, this solves the problem of having the link reappearing on your AIM profile everytime you sign on. However, there are many other files installed as well, including spyware. This page lists the files and directions for deleting them. I haven’t tried the directions yet. I’m going to wait and see if any easier fixes get developed in the next few days, and if they haven’t I’ll try them then.

Again, I’m not a computer expert and can’t vouch for these methods, but hopefully the information above will be helpful if you have this problem.

One more reason to have a blog

One more reason you should start a weblog if you haven’t already: you can come home to find a random alluring woman has signed your guestbook. If I was lacking the motivation to keep my promise from the previous post, I have it now.

Poster boy

Hey, it’s me — a picture from The Fund for American Studies’ alumni outing to Tarara Vinyard in Virginia that’s now up on the TFAS website. All but one of the others are fellow interns at the think tank. (I promise a more meaningful post soon. It’s been a busy week.)

But I like the madness

John Kerry will stop the madness! Is it just me, or does that right arm look Photoshopped on? Perhaps they had no photos of him where he is both raising his fist in anger and smiling charmingly at the same time so they had to combine two of them. Either way, he looks like he could do well in stand-up if this whole running for president thing doesn’t work out.

Do you feel a draft?

The Guardian reports that the Pentagon in seeking volunteers to fill long vacant seats on local draft boards. A recruitment ad, which I cannot find, appeared on the military website Defend America.

I hope I was wrong, but my first published editorial in the premier issue of The Torch expressed the fear that a new draft could be a consequence of 9/11. This is a sign that someone in the DoD is considering this option, and there’s at least one congressman who has done the same.

So now, a question about the right libertarian response: do we protest, or do we strike pre-emptively and fill the draft boards ourselves?

Hustler comment

Most of my science reading in the past year has been about evolution, particularly evolutionary psychology. So far this interest hasn’t made it into my public writing, but this op-ed from today’s Vanderbilt Hustler intersected well enough with my current reading of Posner’s Sex and Reason for me to put out a test balloon (see the first comment).

I was careful not to word the comment too controversially, but I’m curious if the suggestion of a biological basis for the perceived correlation between male homosexuality and fashion will draw any protest. There’s often a double standard in these kinds of issues, with social contruction explanations getting a free pass. Will this hold true at Vanderbilt? Did I write it too densely for anyone to care?

An unexpected appearance

There’s a new Slant out today, and I’m not in it. Well, I didn’t write any articles for it, but I do make an unexpected appearance in Ceaf Lewis’s funny-but-gross “Lupton 2 Champion Intramural Whacking-Off Team Disbands.” New Torch editor Dave Maynard and I are noted to lament this tragic result of Title IX on men’s sports.

I guess if I have to be mentioned in an article about a whacking-off team, there are worse roles I could have been given… like mascot. Or towel boy. OK, I’ll stop in the name of good taste. (Hey, I didn’t write the article!)

It’s a good issue all around, so take a look.