It looks like they'll let just about anyone write headlines for the paper, without apparent regard for how well they can assemble a sentence. For instance: "For 3rd year, Vatican had deficit in 2003". Would someone please tell me how in the world someone - anyone - can run a 3-year deficit in a single year (specifically, in 2003)? Do we understand what they are saying? Probably. But come on. It's not that hard.

I finally overcame some problems in converting data from Oscar's EZ Subscribe to Comments script. I'm not actually sure where the problem came from - it was either in my move from one host to another or in my move to Movable Type version 3.0D. If the former, then hopefully you won't encounter the same problem, because most people don't change hosts a lot. If the latter, then it may end up being a worthless feature, because you're going to need version 3.0D (or higher) to use MT-Notifier.

I briefly mentioned that my local paper stopped providing articles without requiring a registration. It's a free registration (at least at this point), but I find it annoying. For weeks, I made do without. Then I noticed after searching that an article listed as Charlotte was showing up on a completely different domain. Turns out it is the same company - just another way of getting at the data without registering. So I'm back.

I've talked (more than once) about a new plugin I've been working on for Movable Type-powered blogs.

I'm still not satisfied with it, mostly because it's not (easily) configurable and it's not readily apparent that it's working. But since I've been hit with a rash of comment spam in the last couple days (another 10 already today), and Jay's magnificent MT-Blacklist plugin isn't yet ready for version 3.0 (at least not in a form that is publicly available), I figured I would release it.

So without further ado: MT-Moderate.zip.

So I'm a little late. Sue me.

Today I've been cleaning up the links on the site.

The first change was to point all my links to a submdomain, rather than to the subfolder. This is because my current host actually has a stable platform, and the subdomains seem to work reliably. My old host, well, didn't, so while I configured the subdomains, I never really tried to push them. Now that the feature works, and works reliably, I'm going to use them - I think it makes for a cleaner look.

A little over a month ago, I implemented a new plugin to handle comment moderation. I still haven't released this publicly, as I don't particularly care for the way I did it, and it's not configurable at all at this point. That may change in the near future, as it seems that the plugin is working pretty well.

The radioactive half-life of an element is a measurement that determines how long it takes for half of the atoms in that element to disintegrate. Some elements have a half-life measured in seconds, minutes or days. Others have a half-life measured in thousands or billions of years. How exactly does anyone reliably determine such a figure?

I understand that measurements are generally exact, at least to our limited perception, and using standard equations should result in a particular value. Moreover, if you can see a decent progression happening over a particular window of time, then it should be reasonably simple to come up with a decent guess as to the half-life of an element. The one thing you will need is a constant - or at least an understood - rate of decay.

Even though this rate may seem constant to our measuring techniques, how can anyone think that the rate will remain constant over 4.5 billion years? Assuming that the rate of decay does remain constant, how do we know that some other factor - some outside influence that changes the conditions - won't alter the rate of decay at some point in the future? While outside influences aren't generally understood to affect such things, what happens if we find out that they do?

There are just over 2 trillion days in 4.5 billion years - that's a lot of opportunity for change. Especially interesting because many of the elements that have such a large half life weren't even known until recent years. Uranium, for instance, wasn't discovered until 1789, and it wasn't even isolated until 1841. That's a lot of advancement - and change - in just 54 years. Why do we think that there won't be even more in the next 4.5 billion?

Let's assume that Uranium's rate of decay had been examined since the day it was discovered. You're only talking 200-plus years. How can a measurement taken over that small of a sample reliably reflect data for 4.5 billion years? The sample would only be five 10 millionths of the whole - and I feel very confident that the rate of decay hasn't been measured since discovery!

Recently, the government's effort to build a nuclear waste facility in the Nevada desert suffered another setback. Now I don't have anything against the folks in Nevada, and I don't necessarily think that this is a good idea. But the latest argument against this project is that the designers can only predict how well the facility will hold its contents for the next 10,000 years. The effect on someone living in near proximity to the facility indicates that they will be 60 times over the allowable limit of radiation - in 270,000 years.

I'm all for being environmentally responsible, and I am not necessarily recommending that the government move ahead on this project. What I don't get is how anyone thinks that we can possibly predict reliably what things will be like 10,000 years from now - much less 270,000. What if the designers come back and say that they've altered their plans and that things are all set - and for 500,000 years, the radiation will be well below allowed levels?

What if they are wrong? Who in the world will be liable for the problems that crop up 13,000 years from now? Our country can't even seem to get over slavery issues - and those ended just 150 years ago. Even if you blame the government, who in their right mind would think that any entity that exists today would be around in any form in that kind of window? Microsoft, sure. But who else? Even Larry Ellison ought to have given up by then.

Assuming that those issues can be handled, what if someone in 20 years - or 200 or 2000 or 20,000 - decides that the allowable raidiation level is a tenth of what they projected? Ooops. I don't have a problem with science, even though this may come across as such. I'm all for it. However, I don't see why we think we can predict things so far in the future. Even if the numbers are right, all sorts of things could change between now and then. Just look at the discoveries of the last few hundred years.

To think that the sum of our knowledge will simply stagnate for the next four-and-a-half billion years seems to me to be very narrow thinking - or very egotistical. Perhaps the effort should be expended on trying to make things decay more quickly, develop or discover methods for ridding ourselves of the mess we've already produced - or even come up with safer alternatives.

In a relatively well-linked entry, Wired talks about Blogging Burnout. While I've only been at this for a year or so - and no, I didn't publicize it on the date it happened - I've got to say that I'm not feeling particularly burned out.

There are times when I don't feel like posting, and I don't. There are times when I post multiple times in a day (this last week is a good example of that). There are times that I may post on not having anything to post. But in the end, I blog because I like to blog - not because I feel pressure to blog.

I feel that it gives me an outlet for my thoughts. Even though I may share those thoughts with Denise or someone else, I like to get the thoughts out there. I have this vision - misguided though it may be - of making a small mark in the world. Changing it for the better. When I feel inspired, I post. When I don't, I don't. I just don't get the pressure part of it, but maybe that's me.

I received a note from Simon about an extra separator line in the context menu appearing, even though the context menu had been disabled. He even sent me the code where it was happening! So I've whipped up another version of the toolkit. The only change is that the second separator will not display if you have the context menu disabled - if you like the separator displaying, or if you have the context menu enabled, this version will do nothing for you.

Most of us have credit cards. Anyone notice how more and more locations have signs indicating that you must hold out your card and show it (and ID) to the cashier? If so, have you noticed how rarely the cashier actually follows this procedure? A few years ago, I wrote 'Check ID' on my credit card, as I have no problem if a cashier asks me for some photo ID along with my purchase. In fact, I like it.

The problem I have is that they don't. Nearly everyone flips the card over to check your signature line, but very few actually read it, and fewer still compare it to what's on the card. Just seeing some scribble of ink there apparently means that it's okay. Those few who do ask me for ID almost invariably look at the ID and check the name on the card to see if it matches. Anyone notice a missing step here? They rarely, if ever, actually look at me to see if I may in some way resemble the person on the ID. Think that might be a useful step?

What about when you're in a grocery store of some sort, and the cashier needs to void something because it rang up incorrectly? Ever see the manager come over to fix the problem? How many times have you seen the manager give the keys to the cashier, then seen the cashier verify the manager's code, and then proceed to fix the problem themselves? The manager, now on the hook for fixing problems, has no idea what just transpired under their watch.

I don't have a problem with procedures. I do have a problem with procedures that don't have any effect. Why bother with implementing more and more red tape if it's just going to be ignored? I guess so that when people complain, they can introduce more procedures, designed to speed things up again. Maybe the best idea isn't to throw bureaucracy at a problem, but really try and solve it in a way that makes sense. Is that really too much to ask?

As a birthday present to everyone, Mark has rolled out a new interface for Bloglines. The new interface has a more consumer-friendly feel to it, and has been in the works for a little while now. Yours truly even helped with the CSS a bit.

Along with the new interface design, a new feature has been added to the mix (actually, I'm sure there's more than just one). Now you can create your own clip blog, complete with built-in blogroll. The functionality is very similar to the clippings feature (previously saved items) - only now you can share them with the world. You'll even get your own RSS feed, so others can subscribe to your blog and see what you've found!

So if you use Bloglines, check out the upgrade. If you don't use Bloglines, are you waiting on something else?

Anil requested screenshots of the admin UI of MT-Notifier, so here they are. Sorry, the size varies quite a bit! Hopefully it'll do.