Spam bloggers get

There’s a certain kind of spam that bloggers get, which is mostly invisible to non-bloggers. So many people may not recognize it as spam, for lack of experience. Let me describe it for you.

The end goal of the spammer is to create links back to a website. I don’t pretend to know how their business model works, but I’d speculate that these spammers are paid by some website to boost their search rankings. The websites are generally disreputable shoestring budget operations, filled with plagiarism, AI-generated text, and other nonsense, and absolutely do not deserve to have their search rankings boosted.

The most common way to create links is by leaving comments. I get about 30 spam comments a day, but I never look at them because WordPress has a very effective spam filter. Many comments don’t bother trying to trick you, they’re straight up ads. Other comments are generic “I loved reading this!” type stuff, with a profile link back to the target website.  Perhaps it’s no wonder that cranky old bloggers like me don’t appreciate generic praise.

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A Chinese-Filipino family history

My grandfather died, so I read his memoir.  It had been published when I was 11. You will not be able to find this book, and anyway it’s not the sort of thing that is of interest to people outside of his family. But I found it valuable to understanding my heritage, and there are some interesting historical bits I’d like to share.

My grandfather was born in the Philippines in 1929. He was part of the Chinese-Filipino minority, which entailed going to a separate school that used Chinese as a primary language. Like many Chinese-Filipino people, he came from a Fukien background.

When he was 6, he moved to Shanghai. This was because of Chiang Kai-shek’s “New Life” campaign, which (among other things) sought to attract Chinese expats back to China to build its industry. My great-grandfather owned a tobacco company, so he moved to China to start a Chinese branch. The cigarette packs explicitly advertised that they were made by returning overseas Chinese—a patriotic cause.

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Link Roundup: April 2023

Some links on AI art – I included some of these shoutouts in my comment section, but might as well include in my link roundup as well.  The reason I was thinking about AI art was because Great American Satan has been writing in its defense.  I also saw a video by Jack Saint (21 min), which was in opposition to AI art, but also concluded that the problem was capitalism.  I thought one of the interesting points Jack Saint made was about the use of AI in animation, which is an art form that arguably takes too much work.  Most people will basically never animate anything, and when people like Jack Saint do solo animation projects, it can take a major toll.  This is why I’m not very convinced by the idea that AI makes things too easy.  Maybe it makes some things too easy, but other things it could make more reasonably easy.

Adastra: The Best Furry Visual Novel Made Me Come Out as Gay and Now You Have to Hear About It | Keith Ballard (video, 3:14 hours) – So, funny story.  I thought I’d watch some Myst Let’s Plays so I could see what I remembered wrong about the series.  And I got sidetracked because the player was obviously a furry and probably gay.  Clearly that’s what Myst was missing–furries.

Anyway, this is the sort of media analysis that includes a summary of the visual novel being discussed–that’s why it’s so long.  Adastra is a political drama where the player character is abducted to an alien society and participates in a contest between two successors to the throne.  It’s also an 18+ romance.  It sounds like this story has a great alignment of text and subtext: the characters are literally gay, but also metaphorically gay in their relation to society.  Despite the common prejudice against furries, some of the smut they write just sounds so sincere and wholesome.

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Ranking the Myst games

I’m ranking the Myst games for no particular reason. I like thinking about them and I like writing, so here we are. Some readers may be surprised that there were more than two of these games–this list is for you.

This is emphatically a recollective ranking, not a retrospective ranking. I played these all a long time ago, and my memory has condensed into a few moments and emotional reactions. My ranking reflects not just the games themselves, but also who I was at the time I played them. I did not make any attempt to overwrite my memories by playing the games again, and I only did research for fact checking purposes.  (ETA: I later ranked these games again using a retrospective approach.)

7. Uru: Ages Beyond Myst (2003)

Uru was developed as a massively multiplayer online game, and was released the same year as Second Life, one year prior to World of Warcraft. If you’ve never heard of this before… welcome to this list!

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Origami: Bacteriophage


Bacteriophage, designed (and taught) by Miguel Romero

Last month I went to the local origami convention, and this is one of the models that I learned.  Later I folded a second one.

This origami uses a technique called box pleating.  Box pleating typically starts by folding the paper into an NxN grid of squares.  You then collapse into a base that has the right number of “points”.  In this case, there are 6 points for the 6 legs, 2 points are internally hidden, and the head is the 9th point.

This model is simple as far as box pleating goes, but it’s still quite difficult to teach in a convention setting!  When you’re familiar with box pleating, you don’t necessarily have explicit steps in your head, you just do it.  But most people in the workshop won’t have experience with box pleating, and so the teacher needs to come up with step by step instructions.  Even people who are familiar with box pleating may not fold very quickly.  So when I say this model is simple, that’s to its benefit.  Simplicity is a virtue in origami, especially origami that you teach to others.