The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Blog spam

I wonder what spammers are actually thinking almost as much as I wonder why they bother me.

I've had a blog-spam problem for about three weeks now targeting my referral logs. Spammers with robots use robots that act like people browsing the blog, but they appear to come from gambling sites so that the site URLs show up in the system logs. Some blogs' referral logs are searched by Google and other sites, so the theory here is that the referral spam will generate a lot of inbound links into their sites driving up their search rankings. Sadly for all concerned, this doesn't actually happen; Google is too smart.

Then there's comment spam, like this thoughtful thing I got from a vistor in India this morning:

Remember to let her into your bedbug, then you can start to make it partial.
I don't care about Christopher Fargis, he is vivid, pubescent, and anatomic and I am not going to refracture about it. Dyno-blast Jason Chan hunch our lettering. Our hydraulic corer guard a specious otherness Sammy Schenker is a scornful chelicera? Then Mazen Nesheiwat skyjacks a blurriest nunnery. We will commend on the glitter; we will generalize on the commissure; we will never flick.
My to go cardiograph overconcentrates in the hole. Harmonic Airy Phanhyaseng lip the ambidexter. Therefore unless Gerald Cheatham solemnify Minh Nguyen, she westernize my fattiness but disvalue him

The trick here is that someone is monitoring the spammer's email address, and the subject of the spam comment suggests that anyone emailing the spammer will get information about a gambling site.

Some actual person had to enter the comment, though. The IP address of the comment shows that actual person to be in India, where I can only assume he or she was paid a few cents to copy the nonsense into the comment and submit it to the blog.

It's sad, really. But, in an absurd way, interesting poetry.

Do walk buttons work?

Chicago Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevich channels Cecil Adams:

The actual answer is fuzzy, depending on the location, the time of day, vehicle traffic volumes, when the walk button is activated—and luck too.
Many pedestrians refuse to press walk buttons due to suspicions they are a trick or a placebo concocted by the traffic gods to keep walkers calm while breathing fumes from tailpipes as they wait for green lights at busy street corners.
Steve Travia, IDOT's bureau chief of traffic for the Chicago area[, says:] "The bottom line is that if you don't push the walk button, the walk signal may never come up."

Of course, if you're in New York, don't bother, because 80% of their "walk" buttons are disconnected.

85 days, 15 hours and 50 minutes

The hypothesis that the Bush Administration (891 days, 3 hours and 50 minutes left) pumps up the volume on terrorism close to an election just got more evidence:

NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner.

So all you people who had to throw out your expensive cologne this past week? You might want to write your congressman.

Wind is hard

On a day like this, when I'm slogging into the wind on Lawrence through heavy traffic and stopping...every...two...blocks for red lights, I just want to finish the ride. But then lately, even my bad rides end up surprising me. Today I did 80 km (50 mi) in unpleasant conditions and still finished in 3:11, more than a minute faster than my best 80 km time.

Next weekend: 120 km (75 mi), which, should I complete it, will be the longest I've ever ridden in one day.

Another waste of time

If you don't mind downloading 25 Mb, you can see the short video I took of the cicada who attached herself to my screen while I was working yesterday. To get the full experience turn your speakers up to 11. Those things are ridiculously loud.

They start to come out in Northern Illinois mid-June, and by mid-August they're everywhere. Then, suddenly, around Labor Day, they disappear for another year.

Someone has a cicada blog you might want to check out, if you're into cicadas.

By the way, Chicagoland, next year is our big cicada year, when Brood XIII pokes out of the ground mid-May. In 1990 they not only poked out of the ground, they covered it, generating a noise that can't be described.

I love these guys. Their buzzing just says "summer" to me.

Ate my Wheaties this morning

It's not every day that I set five personal records (PRs). This morning I rode 40 km (24.9 mi) in 1:29:19, beating my old PR (set Tuesday) by 2:29. The other PRs are in my expanded PR table on

I attribute my increasing performance this season to three things: first, plain and simple, I'm riding more: 17.3 km (10.7 mi) per day on average (including days off) against 14.6 km (9.1 mi) the previous three seasons. Here's what I've done since June 13th:

The little blue dots go against the right-hand scale and represent kilometers ridden on each day. The yellow line goes against the left-hand scale and represents a moving 7-day average.

The second boost is that I'm eating much better than I used to, and timing it better as well. I have to thank Monique Ryan, the sports nutritionist whose office is across the atrium from mine.

Finally, I found another great book by champion biker Marla Streb. If you're interested in seriously training for a Century, I recommend you pick up both books today:

McKinney, Lieberman, DeLay...don't let the door hit you

It looks like the Democrats will hold the Georgia 4th after all: Rep. Cynthia McKinney lost her primary against challenger Hank Johnson. McKinney has found herself in the news more often for her antics than for her legislation, as in her recent altercation with a Capitol Police officer.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman also lost against challenger Ned Lamont. Lieberman has supported the war and President Bush (895 days, 4 hours) more often than anyone else in the party—and more often than some Republicans as well. He now plans to run as an independent (of what, I wonder?) against Lamont and the nearly-anonymous guy the GOP put on the ballot as an afterthought.

The Lieberman campaigned turned silly Monday night when the Lieberman Website went down. Lieberman's people blame hackers; another story is more probable:

Lieberman's camp, whose candidate has since conceded the primary election to challenger Ned Lamont, charged Monday that the Lamont campaign was responsible for alleged cyberattacks which they said brought down their primary web site and email services. Such "dirty politics" were "a staple" of its operations, asserted Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith. Later, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein admitted to TPM's Greg Sargent that Lieberman's staff had no evidence Lamont's campaign was behind the alleged attacks.

The general election is in less than 90 days. With McKinney and Lieberman no longer running as Democrats, I think our chances of holding both seats just improved. Add to that Tom DeLay's and Bob Ney's (R-OH) troubles, and we might—just might—win the House this year.