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Population: One

Green cheese

A California company has been authorized to make the first private moon landing. I have to admit I’m a bit puzzled by this, since the last time I looked it wasn’t illegal to land on the moon. At worst it ought to be necessary to get permits for the launch; why does the U.S. government care where they’re going? And how does the rest of the world feel about the U.S. claiming the right to decide who makes Moon landings?

But I digress; I didn’t mean this as a rant. I just think it’s cool that someone’s going.

Probability rules

I have moved over to spamprobe for all my spam filtering needs. It’s an implementation of Paul Graham’s Bayesian spam detection algorithm, which detects spam based on word frequency analysis. It requires some training before it works well; you have to feed it a collection of a couple of hundred good messages and a couple of hundred spam messages so that it can build a table of spam words. Or, alternatively, you can train it over time and put up with false negatives and positives for a little while. But once you get those few hundred messages classified, you’re golden.

The really cool thing is that it doesn’t depend on a viewable list of spam words, as does SpamAssassin. I used to use SpamAssassin, and over time more and more spams were getting through, because it’s easy for spammers to look at the list of keywords that comes with SpamAssassin and avoid those words. What’s more, Bayesian filters evolve along with the spammers — if a spammer tries a new approach, but spamprobe catches the message because they didn’t go far enough, the words used in the new approach get classified as potential spam for the next go-round.

The downside is that you can’t really do a global install; everyone needs to train their own filter. Well. You could, but you’d lose a bit of accuracy. I suppose it’d be interesting to see a fairly decent sized site try. I wonder how many people get email at Flit’s site? (Just kidding.)

There are a bunch more Bayesian filters listed here if spamprobe doesn’t suit you for some reason. I get a few hundred emails a day and spamprobe has been plenty fast enough so far, though.

Speaking of Clint

It looks like is getting made into a movie. (If I were on the ball I’d hit the extras casting session tomorrow, but time prevents.) The book is excellent and highly recommended; Dennis Lehane has a knack for writing the dark side of Boston while still caring about the city deeply. And I adore his characters.

Mystic River departs from his earlier series work, probably (from his interviews) because he didn’t want to get typecast. I think it was a good choice. Kenzie and Genarro are compelling characters, but at some point they’ll get overused. Their relationship is core to the series; how many changes can he ring before it grows stale?

Clint Eastwood is directing the movie, and the cast includes Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Tim Robbins, Laura Linney, and Marcia Gay Harden. Brian Helgeland wrote the script. Apparently Sean Penn is playing Jimmy Marcus, and Kevin Bacon will be Sean Devine. That’d mean Tim Robbins plays Dave Boyle. Interesting choice, there, but it works for me.

Oddly, and completely parenthetically, the Amazon listing for the book mentions that 7 people recommended if you liked Mystic River. In His Image appears to be a cheap knockoff of the Left Behind series. I sense an enthusiastic marketing campaign, and I must encourage you all to recommend Mystic River if you liked In His Image. You’ll need the ASIN if you follow the above link; it’s 0380731851.

Tenth Avenue Geekout

Major geeking out, here.

This is a test of my hacked up Movable Type to LiveJournal bridge. I’m using blagg (a good RSS aggregator) with an LJ plugin to do the dirty work; the hacked up part is a) a modification of the default MT RSS .91 template so that the description field includes the entire entry, and b) a modification of the LJ plugin so that it sends the entry to LJ as pre-formatted text.

I beg of you to be patient while I make this work. When’s all said and done, entries in my blog will propagate to LJ hourly. The reserve will not be true, and comments will not propagate. Extended entries may be odd. I’ll work that out the next time I post one; I think the temporary hack will be OK for now.

I caught Blood Work

I caught Blood Work last night at the Somerville Theatre. Much to my relief, the central theater is still there; I’d been worried because the listings showed five movies playing there at once, and in my previous Bostonian life, there was only a single large auditorium. But it seems they’ve simply added small screening rooms on the sides, and the main theater (with balcony) remains intact. Good.

Alas, the movie didn’t benefit from my resulting good mood. I hadn’t truthfully been expecting all so much, since I wasn’t overly fond of . The bones of the plot worked better on the screen than on the page for me, perhaps because Michael Conneley’s prose isn’t very fluid, but the acting in general wasn’t terribly strong. Jeff Daniels as the guy next door was good, and Eastwood himself was passable, but everyone else — even Angelica Huston — was strident and strained. Big drama with big declarations and horrendously arrhythmic patterns of speech. Not so good.

Again, the story is certainly solid and it’s a very clever idea for a mystery. The screenplay was by Brian Hegeland, who wrote L.A. Confidential, so I’m not surprised that the adaptation went well. The tension was there in theory. The actors simply let the script down.

So: skip. Maybe rent if you’re a real Eastwood fan.

Alive, healthy, no wiser

Landed in Boston successfully, and currently tapping away at the keys of my iBook in my brand-new apartment. Well. New to me, anyhow. Earthlink came to my aid in time of need, thus the connection. Later I expect pizza.

Could be worse!

Pictures of the new place may come at some later date. Updates will continue to be sporadic until I get the real network in here, mmm mmm good.

Home stretch

Almost all packed, which is a darned good thing considering that the movers are showing up in about 12 hours. It’ll be down to the wire, yep.

Posts will be very sparse for the next little while.