I’m recording an album in February.

So there’s this thing called the RPM Challenge, which is basically this: hey, jackass, write and record a brand new album in February.

This is the second year, RPM ’07—and I’m in.  I’m doing it.  Though the site is a bit of a mess (they’re trying to bootstrap a fully functioning community site, which is a rough business), you can sort of see what I’m up to over there at my profile page.  I’ll probably keep more up-to-date over here, but, hey.

I found out about RPM because of Miko, who did it last year and from whose ’06 album came her meficomp track, Rattlesnake.  She’s on the fence about this year, but about a dozen other metafilter folks have signed up so far, so I’m hoping this will be a grand metafilterian mess of creativity.  I’m jazzed!

The Man So Roughly Mixed

One of my bands did some recording a couple weeks ago, and I’ve got some rough mixes of the tracks now.  Check ’em out!

That they all start with ‘P’ is, I assure you, coincidence. 

These songs are all written by cohort Brian Rozendal; I’m the keys.  Note again—rough mixes.  These are temporary scratch vocals, and some of them are outright missing in places (see Potassium, for example).

Brian will be doing isolated vocal takes on Thursday, and then Chandler, our engineer, will do finished mixes.  Heck yeah!

A joke about spitting that I just made up

A man is walking down the sidewalk when he comes across another man who is repeatedly hocking and spitting into the street.

“That’s disgusting,” says the first man. “Why are you doing that?”

The second man explains: “I’m practicing for the big spitting championship.”

“Oh,” says the first man. “Well, do you think you’ll win?”

The second man shrugs and says, “well, if nothing else, I expect t’ rate.”


Geddit?! Expectorate! AHAHAHAHAHAHAha okay sorry.

Unrelated: check out Ham-Hands! He’s a supervillain!

New adventures in blog spam

So I was just talking about the dark appreciation I have for new developments in spam tactics, and then, bam, innovation on my very doorstep:

A heavy “tramadol” spam assault—using the content of the apparent discussion of that attack as the content for the spams.

Some background: my general (hobbyist) understanding of Bayesian filtering is that such filtering depends on the identification of words more likely to appear in spam. So a spam can be identified not merely by fixed strings of spamlike phrases, but as gestalts that contain a probabilistically unusual number of spammy tokens. Simply rearranging the words in your spam missive—or synonymizing the words therein—is no longer an effective feint against filters.
So how do you set up a Bayesian filter? You create a corpus of spam, and analyze the contents thereof, and compare that to a corpus of non-spam. Then you test each message you receive for proportional presence of spammy tokens or phrases—too high a spammishness level, and the message gets nuked.

So how do you then fight a Bayesian filter, as a motivated spammer? You deliver novel, non-spammish text. But then the Bayesian filterers will start working your new “novel” text into their databases—it’s an ongoing struggle.

So the savvy spammer needs sources of constantly novel text. I noted previously my conflicted delight at the appearance of Markov Chain-generated pseudo-text—I’m fond of such stochastic methods in general, and used Markov-based deconstruction of Mozart compositions as part of a college project—where spammers incorporated the text of classic novels, for example, and chopped them up using Markovian methods.

But this latest thing is possibly more clever yet than even the Markov tactic: use inherently fresh content for your spam content. Use the reaction to your own current spam campaign to seed your spam with fresh, uncompensated-for plausible text, and thereby eliminate even the vulnerability of a probabilistic profile of commonly-bespammed classic literature.

The evidence so far:

Two days ago, I saw this show up in spam of a number of Meficomp post comment moderation queues:

I always have terrible trouble with comment-related plugins that require me to put some line in the comment loop; I can never seem to find the right spot. Can anyone tell me where I should put the php line in my comments loop? I haven not modified anything much, and I would be very grateful. Thanks!

But then, just a couple days later, a new round of spam, apparently quoting a genuine bloggish reaction the the previous goddam round of spam:

I got the same tramadol attack… well, not the same, because it was only about 20 comments instead of 90, and i t have any filtering set up, and I just deleted them one at a time… hmm.. the only thing really in common was that it was about tramadol… what filter do you have set up that caught them all?

Clever little bastards, you have to give them that.

[post-script: have I mentioned how much I hate the behavior of the WordPress WYSIWYG-ish editor? It is worse than shit. It is Hitler shit.]

Blog spam miscellany

I get a fair amount of blog spam.  The spam I like least is the sort that comes with a vapid but plausible plaintext comment—”Cool site!”; “Thanks for this!”; “lol that’s really funny”—because those are harder to weed out at a glance when I purge my moderation queues.  I get easily twenty spam comments for every actual reader contribution (NOTE TO READERS: COMMENT MORE, DAMMIT), so I’m usually glancing through the queue for the occasional message I should not delete.  These brainless little pseudo-greetings take more culling effort than, say, a great big mess of oxycodone links.

I got a new one today, though, and it was refreshingly plaintive.  Skip the robotic praise of the generic Nice Site, skip the polite fiction that nothing untoward is going on: just shoot straight for the heart.  Ready?

“Pleasse Do not delete this urls , i need money for my child”

That’s right.  Think of the children.

As depressing as the here-to-stay spam epidemic is to me, I find myself consistently entertained by the appearance of new tactics and feints on the part of spammers.  Internet spamming has essentially grown up with me (are we Generation Spam?), and watching the application of information theory over the years has been fascinating.  I laughed out loud the first time I saw evidence of markov chain text reconstitution in a v1aGr4 email—yes, it was spam, but they were using stochastic methods to defeat the recent Bayesian filter fad! 

Cut-up method as marketing vector!  I don’t know if Burroughs would be thrilled or insulted or what.

View my excruciating childhood

So I’ve started drawing pictures and talking about the things I’m drawing pictures of over at Pen & Inklings, and it’s going well, but I’ve found that so far almost all of the drawings and writeups have been about my childhood.

And today’s entry is moving into magnum opus territory: I was an awkward kid is a brief tale of gym class ineptness, and I rather like the drawing as well.

This is why you need several blogs—so you can update one by linking to the other and saying, “hey, go look at my blog”.  Brilliant.

Twenty bucks, same as in town

When I was in college, I got into Kibology, insofar as that’s possible to even do. Kibology is one of those niche-culture things that people either get or don’t get—right now, you’re either thinking “Kibology?” or “Kibology! Yeah!”—and is hard to explain, but it all comes back to James “Kibo” Parry, who is a hell of a guy depending on how much he’s paying whoever you ask.

Anyway, at some point I picked up a habit from alt.religion.kibology: answering questions about identity with the intentionally mismatched punchline-from-an-joke-about-a-nun magnitudinal trope, “twenty bucks, same as in town.”

The classic line, endemic to the very nature of Kibology, was the newsgroup newbie question, “so what’s Kibology?”

Twenty bucks, same as in town.

Anyway, I’ve dropped this line a few times at Metafilter over the years. I try to keep it to a minimum, but apparently a wily Dutchman of my acquintance has noticed the trend, and pointed it out in this Metachat post. Thanks for blowing my cover, Paul.

So, with the cat out of the bag, there’s nothing left to do but shoot for a nice high google ranking on the phrase. Right now, a search for “twenty bucks, same as in town” yields precisely 281 hits. The first two are to a poli blog, the third to an rss feed of another political site, the fourth to a cached listserv rendition of one version of the actual joke

…and the fifth link is to a Metafilter (well, Metatalk) thread where I trot the old thing out.
Not bad, but I bet I can do better. And this might be enough to do it—I’ve found that it’s not too hard to get decent google placement for obscure phrases simply by, well, actually using them innoccuously. At one point, an old site of mine was the top hit for “crazed maniac with a knife” or something like that. Must have found that in the referrer logs.

So, there we go. This is possibly the most benign and least organized googlebombing ever.

(What? What’s a g-bomb? Twenty bucks, same as in town.)

The Man So Recording

the band

One of my bands did some recording this last Saturday—at which the drummer was visibly stricken with some awful malady that seems now to be inhabiting my bloodstream, hence the updating-blog-in-pajamas you’re currently enjoying—and it went rather well, I think. Smashing, even, though we don’t have the audio yet to prove it.

Anyhow, I took a bunch of pictures, and they are right over here. Whee!