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Slashback: Pop-Ups, Books, Qmail 365

Slashback tonight is loaded with updates and addenda to previous stories on Bayesian spam-prevention, pop-up ad blocking, and celebratory picnics as well as an inquiry into the other side of visionary literature. Read on below for the details.

What's your idea of feel-good literature? A few weeks ago, an Ask Slashdot question was posed about the greatest dystopic novels, and quite a few people weighed in with their choices for visions of the post-nuclear, post-germ-warfare, post-natural disaster or otherwise blighted future.

Now reader itwerx wants the other side: "That "Dystopic novels?" Ask Slashdot was so darn depressing we need a counter balance! Let's hear what novels of utopia may not be widely known."

It's certainly widely known, but I'll start the bidding with Atlas Shrugged.

The best revenge is living well, and gluing spammers end-to-end. RealDhar writes "Hey, just thought I'd let folks know that, inspired by the recent article about Paul Graham's Bayesian spam filter work, I went and wrote one for qmail. Please check it out!"

What took so long? Pop-up ads are no fun. iVillage cut them out, AOL swears they're cutting back, and even Netscape 7 can be wrangled to block them. An anonymous reader writes "From the Associated Press (via Salon): EarthLink Inc. said Monday it plans to offer its subscribers software to block Internet pop-up advertisements as part of a wider campaign to set itself apart from competitors. The full story is here.."

Penguins and picnics go well together. ArtEnvironment writes "Besides today's 2nd California Linux Anniversary Picnic previously mentioned, there will also be PLUS, the Philadelphia Linux/Unix Symposium which is the 2nd annual East-Coast Linux anniversary picnic and more, including a bar night kicking off Friday the 23rd, a free computer/electronics swap meet and giveaway on Saturday the 24th, and of course the picnic on Sunday the 25th. Also included is one of the well-known PLUG GPG Keysigning parties. PLUS will be an annual grass-roots event, but it 'won't be big and professional like' ALS or LWCE. ;)"

I look forward to the final, triumphant mention of this :) Qbertino writes "The Blender Fund, established a month ago in order to buy the IP of the 3D Pakage Blender and, at last, GPL it, has accumulated 90K Euro (90K$) of the required 100K in less than 4 weeks. As it indicates on the Website, Ton Roosendahl, father of Blender, is preparing to release the sources which should happen within the next week or so. Time for a Blender icon on /."

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Slashback: Pop-Ups, Books, Qmail

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  • Utopian novels (Score:3, Informative)

    by rknop ( 240417 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:01PM (#4101179) Homepage

    Version of what I call the "James P. Hogan Utopia" show up in a number of his novels. Among them are: Paths to Otherwhere, The Multiplex Man, Return to Tomorrow.


    • Re:Utopian novels (Score:4, Informative)

      by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:13PM (#4101221) Homepage

      "The Number of the Beast," by Robert A. Heinlein

      (heh... dirty old man!)
      • "The Number of the Beast," by Robert A. Heinlein

        Yea, it's got a great a great soundtrack too. []
      • Re:Utopian novels (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rodgerd ( 402 )
        Any number of things by Heinlein. "Moon is a Harsh Mistress", "Stranger in a Strange Land", you name it.

        I'm surprised when one of his novels ends less than well.
        • I don't see how blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge constitutes "ending well". The book was a long and trite "if everyone did things my way, look how great it would be". The protagonists were terrorists by every meaning of the word. They attacked civilian targets, killed innocent people, and we rewarded for it. The bad guys won.

          By the end of the book, I was deeply saddened that their plans weren't foiled, that the thinly-veiled United-Nations-cum-Fascist-Overlords didn't blow the colony to smithereens, that they got away with such atrocities, and that Heinlein had the nerve to try and justify it all!

          I really hated that book. It sickened me and left me with a very foul impression of its author. Perhaps it was a bad Heinlein book to start off with, because now I refuse to read any of his others, no matter how well recommended they are.
          • Name me a revolution that doesn't include attacks on civilian targets and the murder of innocent people, and I'll... well... be very suprised. If any political upheavel, to be considered a Good Thing, had to uphold the moral standards you propose then you would deny the correctness of India's assertion of self-rule, the justness of the American revolution... every instance of a people freeing itself from tyranny I can think of. For that matter, would blowing the colony to smithereens be any less of a terrorist act?

            Just because some acting government holds the might does not make them in the right and all those who choose to fight them terrorists.
            • Name me a revolution that doesn't include attacks on civilian targets and the murder of innocent people, and I'll... well... be very suprised.

              How about the American Revolution? Unless, of course, you consider British soldiers or crates of tea to be "civilian targets" or "innocent people."

          • Huh?

            When was the last time you even read the book? They NEVER targeted cities or cilvilan targets! Everything they targeted was either in the water, on mountain tops, in the middle of deserts or military targets (cheyenne(sp) moutain was flattened). Yes some people died (idiots mostly; who goes and sight sees at or near ground zero of large rocks?). And unlike the UN, they never used nukes... Just real big rocks.

            Lets see, luna did not attack until they had been attacked, the UN used war gas, the UN used nukes and they attacked cities. All Luna did was throw rocks.

            There is a difference between terorists and being at war. A big one. It is real obvious you don't know the difference. During war, you do what it takes to win, plain and simple. (Think USA and Japan, WWII)

            As for being a bad book, I don't think so, it won a hugo back in the 60's.

          • Wasn't Moon just a riff on the American Revolution, updated for the space age? Admittedly, the Founding Fathers didn't attack Britain directly, but that was probably due to lack of opportunity given the technology of the time.

            I read it in that sense because it seemed to fit with Heinlein's weird libertarian-fascist love of pioneers, and it seemed to be pretty thickly laid on, even down to using the Fourth of July etc.

          • by itwerx ( 165526 )
            Heh, you're right, that isn't the best one to try first off. I'd try "Number of the Beast", "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Time Enough for Love", in approximately that order.
            Heinlein always was a dirty old man, a male chauvinist pig and a bit of a bigot, with somewhat humorous/pitiful attempts to (over)compensate for these shortcomings in his books.
            However, he was a hell of a talented writer with a much broader vision than most sci-fi authors of his day and he also had to write for a society which (believe it or not) was a heck of a lot narrower minded then than it is now. If you can look past the shadows his own flaws cast on his writing you can discover some real works of art.
  • by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:06PM (#4101200)
    I vote for "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace -- but that's because I think giant hurds of free-roaming hamsters would rule. --MM
    • I vote for "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace -- but that's because I think giant hurds of free-roaming hamsters would rule. --MM

      For starters, the GNU mascot is a, well, Gnu, not a hamster. As well, the Hurd is a microkernel, not a monolithic one, so it's just not that big. Infinet Jest is also a little to close to the expected release date of the HURD, too, so I'd run the other way if you're every introduced to one Richard M. Stallman.

      Besides, I thought that Linux provided utopia? ;)

  • Sorry, but I find Utopian Novels much more depressing than end of the world, apocolypse novels. Any book about Utopia is a work of fiction, something that will never be achieved as long as humans are involved. Where as apocoplypse is where we are going, regardless of your opinion. I'd rather not read more and more lies about how "great" humanity could do it if worked together. This isn't a troll and this isn't flamebait. I'm just stating how I feel.
    • apocoplypse is where we are going, regardless of your opinion. I'd rather not read more and more lies about how "great" humanity could do it if worked together

      My, aren't you a peach. How silly of us to think that we could grow as humanity. I mean, modern life isn't any better, really, than Europe during the inquisition. Why should we even keep living.

  • Popup Story (Score:3, Funny)

    by hburch ( 98908 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:09PM (#4101211)
    A story about ISPs blocking pop-ups that has a pop-ups? Is charging Earthlink for the additional enticement?
    • Tell me about it. I have noticed major news sites like and adding pop-up adds to initial page loads in the last 2-3 months. With this recent adoption of the medium by major sites, I don't see the use of this annoying method of advertising slowing down anytime soon.

      The only thing we can do is advocate the usage of pop-up blockers and send a message to these advertisers that the public refuses to be annoyed. Now all we need is a pop-up blocker that sends an email to the webmaster of the site everytime a pop-up is blocked ;)
  • by ljhiller ( 40044 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:11PM (#4101215)
    Really, is Atlas Shrugged suggested as a utopia or dystopia? What a nightmare, a world full of objectivists.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:38PM (#4101327)
      I was about to post an Ayn rant (anti) and lost hope during the middle of it.

      Let it just be said that this Romantic tried to call her poor justifications objectivity for a good reason... to hide the lack of any internal coherency. At least half the people that "like" her simply don't understand her and buy the surface level rhetoric of libertarean objectivity. She hated Libertarians, She was not Objective ("objectivity" for her refers to the cold hard outlook, the ability to step over a homeless person, not in the scientific sense of subjecting one's hypothesis to doubt and test). Nietzsche is a much better way to spend your youthful rebellion against the herd. Rand is a waste of time. You can still step over homeless people without having to deify yourself to justify it. Hell, you can even help them if you like. (Not for rand, her not-for-profit organization doesn't believe in charity, volunteerism or, for that matter, not-for-profit endeavor!) There is no more humourously self-refuting organization or philosophy on earth, I believe.

      She simply was justifying why men that rise to the top of the capitalist world, like Ken Lay, are a better sort of people, period.

      Rand is actually quite dangerous, I think. She represents an anti-rationalism which is always a key ingredient in fascism.

      Dang, I did the rant.
      • She simply was justifying why men that rise to the top of the capitalist world, like Ken Lay, are a better sort of people, period.

        See, this is the kind of conclusion that one can achieve if one forgets the "moral" part of "moral objectivism."

        I'm not saying Rand was Right, exactly, but I don't think she was nearly as Wrong as you seem to think she was.

        Rand's basic premise, in a nutshell, was that it is the natural order of things for people to act selfishly. Denial of selfishness leads directly to corruption. So acting out of moral self-interest is less likely to result in corruption or fascism than total, but ultimately false, altruism.

        But like I said, I'm not trying to advocate that position, completely. I think, for example, that she was overly optimistic about the universality of the moral compass. It seems to me-- although my mind's not totally made up on this yet-- that most people that I've met have only the most basic moral compass. They might shy away from armed robbery, but they're not above shoplifting. Of course, I think that's more a problem of nurture than it is of nature, but that's another topic.

        On a different, and actually significantly more important, topic, the whole time I've been writing this my dog has been lying on the couch next to me, dreaming. He's asleep, and every so often he sort of grumbles in his throat, and he legs twitch, and he tosses and turns for a bit. I put my hand on him and he quiets.

        There he goes again.

        I wonder what dogs dream about?
        • But like I said, I'm not trying to advocate that position, completely. I think, for example, that she was overly optimistic about the universality of the moral compass. It seems to me-- although my mind's not totally made up on this yet-- that most people that I've met have only the most basic moral compass.

          I don't think people are born with any "moral compass", but that we are trained in certain responses. All we are born with is absolute freedom, and we must be shown which freedoms to avoid for our own benefit. Throughout our development we are faced with choices, and thinking about these decisions will inevitably lead to self-consciousness. At this point, we recognize the reasons behind morals and then refute them and change if they are nonsense. Once we achieve self-consciousness, we should be able to define an objective moral code based on logic, which is what Rand was trying to do IMO.

          They might shy away from armed robbery, but they're not above shoplifting. Of course, I think that's more a problem of nurture than it is of nature, but that's another topic.

          Response based on severity of repercussions if caught, probability of being caught and probability of being injured themselves in such a high-risk endeavour weighed against benefits to oneself. Note that all above criteria are based on "self-interest". Even if they take into account not wanting to hurt the cashier, these sentiments are motivated by wanting to avoid feeling guilty, which is again self-interest.
      • Un-rant (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The Grip Reamer ( 255166 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @11:22PM (#4101882)
        "Let it just be said that this Romantic tried to call her poor justifications objectivity for a good reason... to hide the lack of any internal coherency."

        You're on. Name the lapses in coherency.

        "At least half the people that "like" her simply don't understand her and buy the surface level rhetoric of libertarean objectivity."

        You're right about that. I've met them. But you're a reasonable chap, right? So you won't call "objectivist" one who claims it for himself falsely, then, will you?

        "She hated Libertarians,"

        Yes, she did. Her political philosophy was grounded in her ethics and more deeply in her epistemology. It's evident that she believed serious political reform was untenable without a major philosophical evolution. How can a government protect rights they don't believe in? The Libertarians believe there are political solutions to philosophical problems (actually they don't acknowledge the problems are philosophical in nature -- it'd undermine their ringquest). And they don't care to ground their political notions in sound philosophy. As a result they're just shifting dogma like those of the other parties. The LP is well on its way to becoming yet another party (albeit a tiny one) awash in moral pragmatism.

        That said, I've voted for their candidate on occasion, when I think it's the best of the available choices. And because the two major parties no longer offset each other as well as they have in the past.

        ""Objectivity" for her refers to the cold hard outlook, the ability to step over a homeless person, not in the scientific sense of subjecting one's hypothesis to doubt and test."

        This is nonsense. A.) When does she step over a homeless person? In what book of hers? In what historical account? As I recall, in Atlas Shrugged, she has Dagny enjoy dinner with a tramp on her train. While it was not for charity, she was aware of the value of the meal to the tramp -- and she treated him respectfully. What would you have preferred? A kiss? Jeez. B.) In science, hypotheses are not "subjected" to "doubt", just to test. Courageous scientists enjoy subjecting hypotheses to the strictest tests because they marvel at those which remain standing. They maintain no affection toward false hypotheses. Because Rand shares none of her own personal introspection with you, you assume there'd been none? Read more. Objectivism isn't about spouting fiat and watching the world morph into spires of glass and steel. It's about determining and stating one's desire, finding out what it takes to accomplish it, and then doing it.

        "Nietzsche is a much better way to spend your youthful rebellion against the herd."

        Rebellions against herds are for the so-called non-conformists. They're blind to the irony that their ideals are determined by others -- that they've evaded the task of selecting their ideals. What happens when their "enemies" change their ideals? Do they lose the enemy or swap ideals? It's not about what you're against. It's about what you're *for*.

        "She [...] was justifying why men that rise to the top of the capitalist world, like Ken Lay, are a better sort of people, period."

        There are characters in Atlas Shrugged who "rose to the top" of their world who were most assuredly not capitalists. They were, in fact, villains. Perhaps you should consider reading the book.

        "Rand is actually quite dangerous, I think."

        Not really. She was short and out of shape. And now she's dead. But perhaps you mean to say that her ideas are quite dangerous. In the sense that they arm rational people against an irrational era, you're right.

        "She represents an anti-rationalism which is always a key ingredient in fascism."

        The "key ingredient" in fascism is the belief that the State is the creator/grantor of all rights. One would have to be anti-Reason to take this view. Please demonstrate how Ayn Rand supported this view. Take your time.

      • (Not for rand, her not-for-profit organization doesn't believe in charity, volunteerism or, for that matter, not-for-profit endeavor!) [] does not specifiy that it is non-profit. Simply because it is an organization created to spread Objectivism, and which collects contributions to that end, does not classify it as non-profit.

        She simply was justifying why men that rise to the top of the capitalist world, like Ken Lay, are a better sort of people, period.

        Actually, no. In her books, the people on the top (the ones in power) were the "bad" people if you recall. Simply because you are on top and have the power, does not mean you are a "better sort of person". She tried to say that everyone should have the freedoms to pursue their own self-interest without interference from other men.

        This "rant" of yours is fine if all you want to do is spout off a non-factual "opinion", but until you can demonstrate inconsistency or problems with her philisophy (which you have not done in the above), you're just blowing smoke out your arse.
    • Well, it's better than "Telemachus Sneezed," or "Penelope Burped"
      • Well, it's better than "Telemachus Sneezed," or "Penelope Burped"

        This might be funny, if it didn't miss the point quite so much. Atlas Shrugged is a great title; remember who Atlas was? He carried the world on his shoulders. What would happen if the man who carried the world on his shoulders were to shift his burden suddenly?

        I really liked Atlas Shrugged. It's a great read, whether or not you agree with the politics or the philosophy. But, in my opinion, the title is far better than the book itself.
    • "What a nightmare, a world full of objectivists."

      I've met a few who call themselves objectivists because they've read a chapter or two and think they've confirmed their Nietzchean views. If you've met any of these people and thought "this is objectivism," I can understand your opinion. I trust that it is subject to your ongoing appraisal.

      Atlas Shrugged presents neither dystopia nor utopia. Both notions are about the last irrevocable note a culture strikes. It shows the worst in men's spirits and the best -- two cultures. The last note of one isn't irrevocable and the note struck by the other isn't it's last.
    • Hear-hear! No world that involves 70+ page monologues can possibly be considered as a utopia. Can you imagine? That would make one of Clinton's State of the Union addresses look like a brief exchange at the water-cooler. Maybe it would be Utopia for narcissistic gassbags, but it would be hell for everyone else. We have a word for the idealized Randian hero in the real world: sociopath.
  • Try The Proxomitron []. I works 95% of the time and it's free. Kills both pop-ups and on-page ads. It even stops Flash and gif animations if you want. More options than you can shake a checkbox at. Try it, you'll like it.
  • by PeterClark ( 324270 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:15PM (#4101227) Journal
    To merge the topic of Blender with that of another recent subject, has anyone started a fund for creating Free fonts to eliminate Free software's dependence upon Microsoft's fonts? From the discussion that has already occured, it seems as though the only sane and reasonable way to get high-quality, consistant fonts is to scrap some money together and pay a professional to do so.

    People, if a _rendering_ program, that is probably used by a relatively small amount of people, can reach 90% of its goal in four weeks, what can we do about raising funds for fonts, which everyone has an interest in? What we need now is for someone or some organization well-respected within the community to speak up and say, "The pot is open! Come chip in!"
    • by mikey573 ( 137933 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @09:10PM (#4101412) Homepage
      I think you have a good idea that does not go far enough. Let's not just free the fonts, let's free all of Microsoft and buy them out! I wonder what would happen if we (opensource community) all gained a majority control in Microsoft. Couldn't we just force them to become open/free/libre?
      • No, even if you gained minority control you would still have a fiduciary duty to the noncontrolling shareholders. In fact, this is the only thing that keeps Bill from putting the company's $40 billion cash into a big bin a-la Scrooge McDuck and going skinny dipping in it.
      • Don't forget that whale that crushed our Jimmy
      • I think even if you gained majority (i.e., 50+%) control, you still have to look out for the interests of the minority share-holders. You have an obligation to the minority share-holders to do what's in their best interest. Thus, if you OpenSourced all of MS' IP after acquiring it (yeah right), you'd be in for a major lawsuite.
  • Utopia?? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:19PM (#4101243) Journal
    Ummm... I don't know about anyone else, but I'd say that living in an Ayn Rand future would be hell on Earth for me.

    p.s. just so that you don't moderate me down as flamebait, I'll say, "I know I'll be moderated down as flamebait for this, but oh well!"

    p.p.s According to the unwritten slashdot moderators' code, you must now moderate me up.
  • He's a damn Objectivist.
  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:21PM (#4101254) Homepage Journal

    Becuase frankly, utopias are fucking boring. Novels that tell a story of triumph against all odds, winning out against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune... those are the stories that speak to the real human condition of fighting adversity. As evidence, consider Dante's writing series. Paradiso is pages and pages of crap about how wonderful heaven is. Boooooring. Inferno is much more interesting reading. (I guess you could say that Inferno is a contra-example to my thesis since the focus of the story is really more on the suffering of the damned than the travel of the main character, but otoh the narrator does travel through the bowels of hell, no doubt a frightening journey, only to return unharmed.)

    So in the field of uplifting stories, stories that, like Shawshank Redemption, are of people crawling through a river of shit to come out clean on the other side, I'll toss in Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One [] . I read it when I was 14, and honestly I think it's had more of a lasting impact on me than any other written work, Bible included. When the times get tough (and I've had my share of tough times in the decade since then), I think it's that books message of self-reliance and determination that carried me through. (Or at least, like a boxer, I would have gone down swinging if I had...)

  • Pop Ups pay for the content you read on certain sites. Yep, the internet isn't free nor is the content. It costs to generate content and one way of paying for that is, shudder, advertising.

    Someone has to pay. If it's not pop ups it'll be something else.

    Why do people continue to believe that the internet is free and always will be free?

    We don't have a micropayment system in place, so web site operators need to generate revenue somewhere.
    • Because Pop Ups are obnoxiously intrusive. I have no problem with most forms of advertising, but pop ups definitely cross the line.

      If my TV stopped playing my show and froze on an ad where I couldn't change the channel, I would throw it out too.

      Advertising only works when it is tactful and entertaining, not when it is disruptive and annoying.
    • I always get off on the guys who think it's their right to access on content on the internet for free and with no inconvenience to their almighty selves.

      There is a simple and fullproof way for all browsers to view the internet without pop-ups. Don't visit the offending sites. Click on the ad banners of sites that don't use pop-ups. Buy products from sites that don't use pop-ups. In short, prove that pop-ops are not worth the trouble they cause. Because most web advertisers have come to realize that pop-up advertisements are the only way to pay the bills and make putting that content online worthwhile.
    • "Why do people continue to believe that the internet is free and always will be free?"

      It's not that people expect the 'Net to be free. It's just that people want to be able to look at a web page without being irritated by garish flashing pictures that appear at random.

      "Why do people continue to believe that the internet is free and always will be free?"

      People don't believe that the Internet is free and always will be. What they believe is that they should be able to pay a reasonable price to an ISP for access to a worldwide network.

  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:24PM (#4101267) Homepage
    I have two procmail rules which work wonders in stopping spam. the first one is a fairly uninventive but nevertheless effective check of a really great RBL. The second is a bit more inventive. By pulling the 'Recieved' headers from the message and comparing the countries the mail was routed through using 'GeoIP' you can make some assumptions about the route. For example. if the sending machine is in the US, relays the mail through Korea, then the mail comes back to the US such an inefficent route can be safely assumed as intended to take advantage of an open SMTP relay... Enjoy!

    procmailrc.antispam.txt []

    -- Greg

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:25PM (#4101268)
    Atlas Shrugged: one of the worst works of literature to ever be popularized. Almost as good as L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. The difference? The religion Rand started she decided to call a "philosophy", even though it's really more of an ideology.

    Seriousuly, her utopia is not only deeply flawed, but her writing sucks. I mean, come on, did anyone really buy into those 20-minute long monologues that folks like D'Anconia have at dinner parties while everyone stands in silence and listens to his tedious diatribes?

    The Fountainhead was much better (Rand was able to resist her temptation to "tell" not "show" a bit better), but even that work was deeply flawed, both from a literary perspective and from a philosophical one. Still inspiring in many ways, but seriously flawed.

    She was rejected by 40 publishers for a reason.

    I have no problem subscribing to the "less government" view of the world, but Objectivism is strictly out.

  • Privoxy [] - more options than you can shake a stick at, since it even allows you to add custom rules for blocking and permission. It's OSS, available from Sourceforge, too. I'm using it right now, and it's blocked all pop-ups and banner ads with just a default installation.

    Seriously, why all the big hoo-haa about the removal of popups when it's easy to install some unobtrusive trustworthy software which destroys them without you even noticing?

    • Despite its ease of use, I bet less than 1% of the Earthlink's 5 million users block unwanted junk.

      COntrast Earthlinks full support for crap-blocking, and I bet a number of AOL user who are bombarded by pop-ups will be consider the switch.

      If 5 million of Earthlink's users suddenly stop seeing ad space, well, thats enough to cause a shake up in the web advertising market.
  • Even though I knew I wouldn't get the t-shirt... oh well. I'll also probably never really use Blender, though I have been considering just downloading it to fiddle with it. Regardless, I pitched in $5, because I felt it was a good cause. I like the idea of free software... especially the "free" part... but the people who put all the work into projects like this have to eat, and I'm ok with contributing to something that will provide a substantial benefit to the community and world as a whole. Good luck Blender Team, and to all of you fledgling artists, put my $5 to good use.
    • I like the idea of free software... especially the "free" part...

      Yup, as do I. That is why I'm a TransGaming subscriber. [] I don't game much, and what I do play has Linux ports out (Q3A, Tribe2, etc.), but I like what they are doing and support them with my 5 bucks every month (OK, I missed one month when my CC got reissued and I forgot to update that with them, but...). That's why I usually buy Linux (well, the major versions anyway like MDK 8.0, SuSE 8.0, etc.). And when there is no buying available, I'll happily donate some spare cash to them (like Gentoo for instance).
  • On a related note... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quinto2000 ( 211211 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:26PM (#4101278) Homepage Journal
    This idea of using Bayesian filters on Spam reminds me of an idea that I've tossed back and forth a couple of times with other slashdotters. I'm getting into neural nets, and I think it would be really interesting to do this kind of analysis on one of the largest data set around, the Slashdot comments. It would be a perfect database for training, because user moderations are attached to most comments. Specifically, I think it would be really cool to train a neural network to recognize trolls. Has anyone else ever thought about this? I would even be able to get academic credit for the research, but CmdrTaco didn't like the idea when I suggested it to him.

    Just like the argument for bayesian analysis of SPAM, reason-based analyis of trolls is fundamentally flawed, as can be seen by the broken "lameness" filters. A neural network/bayesian approach would probably work much better at finding the features trolls have in common. Slashdot could mark likely trolls automatically after they are analyzed by the system, and users could filter "likely troll" in their user preferences page. But mostly, this would be a cool project to do, and I wish CmdrTaco would be more willing to allow direct database access for academic projects. Screen-scraping is not an attractive prospect.

    • by yog ( 19073 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @09:31PM (#4101433) Homepage Journal
      Well, you're proposing to do something really hard, i.e. to somehow
      recognize trolls among legitimate messages, which sounds nearly
      impossible, and yet you balk at doing something extremely easy,
      i.e. cutting and pasting messages into an editor for a few days or
      weeks. You'd be doing the world a huge service if you could solve the
      troll/spam problem; go for it. Don't let lack of direct access to a
      database slow you down.
  • Plato's Republic is, perhaps, the original Utopian work. It's not a novel, but it does lay out what Plato believes it would take to form an ideal society.

    It's no where near as long as a modern novel and well worth reading just to see the genesis of Utopian thought

  • by leto ( 8058 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:36PM (#4101316) Homepage
    Eric Raymond has written Bogofilter [] that implements Paul Graham's idea. I've created a Badwords list [] for use with bogofilter seeded with my entire spam collection of four years.


  • I like to print out the Microsoft press releases that complain about how much headway Linux and the Macintosh have made in unseating Windows. Yes, it's all BS designed to bolster Microsoft's contention that there's no need for the government to restrain Windows, but it makes me feel better.

    If anyone's interested, I'll be combining them in a bound volume for only $19.95 a copy, per year, per seat.

  • Utopia vs. Dystopia (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kafir ( 215091 ) <> on Monday August 19, 2002 @08:44PM (#4101354)
    Unfortunately utopian novels tend not to make very good novels.
    Compare Aldous Huxley's dystopian Brave New World to his later utopia, Island. Moral ambiguity is replaced by self-righteousness, the bitter irony of the "savage" who represents an alternative world-vision in BNW is replaced by the one-sided Theosophists who form the opposition in Island. And the soul-killing drug, "soma," is replaced by the enlightening "moksha medicine," without any very convincing explanation of what makes one drug better than another.

    Or compare H.G. Wells's classic early works, starting with the speculative dystopia of The Time Machine, with his preachy late utopia, The Shape of Things to Come.

    Or read some of the classic socialist utopias of the late nineteenth century, Morris's News From Nowhere or Bellamy's Looking Backward. No plot, no conflict, just the slow exposition of the author's vision for a new world, along with castigation of the stupidity or greed of those among the author's contemporaries who did not share his vision.

    Books about the process of creating utopia tend to be somewhat better; I enjoyed Wells's In the Days of the Comet, and Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is something of a classic, describing the fight to create a libertarian society on the moon. But that class of books allows for direction and struggle in a way that pure utopian novels do not.

  • ... from the blender3d website...

    NaN Holding recognizes that, giving all circumstances and the current economic situation, moving on with Blender to this next stage will be the most beneficial thing to do, to protect past investments, but also to respect everything that has been realized until now by the NaN companies and the world-wide user community.

    NaN Holding being the current owner of blender, and supposedly seeing open source as the way to go... then what am I missing here? Why does the blender fund exist for the purpose of purchasing a development license from NaN?? Bueller?

  • The Songs of the Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke.

    The story chronicles the happenings of two human civilisations: One, founded in the remote planet of Thalassa, colonized by humans in a distant past. The Thalassans live in peace and harmony, thought their lives are a bit dull. The other civilisation is a group of people from Earth who are just "passing by". The conflict arises when these two civilisations meet one another and...

    ...go read the book to find out. It's really cool, probably Clarke's best.

    Here is the link at Amazon -- check out the reviews. []


  • Utopia...sort of. (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheTrueELf ( 557812 )

    Ursula K. LeGuin's _The_Dispossessed_ is IMHO one of the best Utopian novels in print; especially since it avoids the flaws so many have already pointed out, namely, vociferous self-righteousness and non-existent human struggle.

    In a nutshell: physics genius from ascetic, cooperative anarchy on a quasi-prison planet travels to hedonistic, fragmented neighbor planet to revolutionize science across the galaxy.

    That summary is just SO inadequate...

    • Beat me to it. Coincidentally, I've been reading utopian novels for a month or so, including More's "Utopia" and Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward". Both of these have, in my opinion, appalling authoritarian overtones, from the vantage of the early 21st century. Especially the latter, with talk of "mustering" people into the "industrial army". Yikes! But More's society required travel permits for leaving your neighborhood, and depended on slavery. Not so easy building a utopia.

      But I digress. "The Dispossessed" gets mentioned in the same breath as these. I'd already read it three or four times growing up and since. I think the key feature which the above summary misses is that from which the title is taken: citizens of Annares do not acquire or keep personal possessions. The other world is more or less like ours, politically and economically. This was in LeGuin's heavy dualist period, shortly after "Left Hand of Darkness". It owes much to LeGuin's admiration for Paul Goodman [].

      For what its worth, every time I reread it, I find the language more beautiful and the human conflicts (whichever critic claimed it lacks them needs to read it again--or perhaps for the first time) more rivetting.
  • If you haven't read it, run, don't walk to Amazon and buy it now. Now that's my kind of "utopia". Government is a dirty word and everyone carries guns. They invented the internet in the 1800's.

    Seriously, Smith has written over 20 books with libertarian themes carried to their logical conclusions. They aren't preachy, but darn good plots and good characters you can actually like.

    Second place goes to anything by Heinlein.

    Read about it here [].
  • Good grief, how could anyone recommend inflicting that tome on another human being? It's nothing but boring plot used to tie together Objectivist monologues on the evils of supporting the non-productive members of a society! Not that I disagree, in principle, but there's a 40'page monologue in that thing! 40 damn pages of objectivism! That's too much to be healthy.

    • Atlas Shrugged: The book every haughty IB student seems to think encompasses the end-all and be-all of social philosophy.

      I did like her play "On the Night of January 16th" though (er, if that's what it was called... I don't remember...).

  • Pop Up stopper [] does the job of killing pop up ads while allowing me to surf sites that actually "need" to pop up a new window.
  • by dmiller ( 581 )
    Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

    Laugh if you want, but as a member of this society you would likely be very happy and want for little.
  • There was a fascinating take on Brave New World as Utopian in Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles, as one character puts it on page 187:
    "everyone says Brave New World is supposed to be a totalitarian nightmare, a vicious indictment of society, but that's hypocritical bullshit. Brave New World is our idea of heaven: genetic manipulation, sexual liberation, the war against age, the leisure society. This is precisely the world we have tried - and so far failed - to create"
    The Elementary Particles also is either Utopian/Dystopian depending on how you interpet those terms, and I highly recommend the book. (The author is an interesting character himself, seek out the interview [] where he tries to coerce the interviewer into sex).
  • "Dispossessed," by Ursula Le Guin. A lot of her work could be called utopian/dystopian, but this book is the one that really changed my personal views of what our world should be like.
  • Cement and How the Steel Was Forged are my votes for utopian novels. They are much more boring and devoid of artistry than their names would suggest. This is utopia: boring.

    Ironic that the Soviet socialist regime would produce canonical utopian writing while simultaneously providing creative material for truly disturbing stories like Nabokov's Bend Sinister.

    Is it too late to weigh in with Bend Siniter as my vote for a distopian novel? It is the sort of book you read exactly once.

  • Uptopian novels (Score:2, Informative)

    Here are my favorites, with political viewpoints that range from conservative to libertarian to anarchist to socialist:
    • Red/Green/Blue Mars (Robertson) -- the recent trilogy that brilliantly captures the accelerating possibilities of technological contributions to changing things for the better, with all the heroic struggle anyone could want
    • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Heinlein) -- an intelligent blend of revolutionary politics, radical family structure, self-organizing libertarian economics, and the possibilities of intelligent computers
    • The Dispossessed (LeGuin) -- egalitarian anarchy examined critically but lovingly (a good antidote to Rand)
    • Islandia (Wright) -- an anti-"progress" utopia from about 1900 that is surprisingly attractive, although its vision of a society knit together by family and location loyalties and a shared literature is by this time something that we would have to re-create rather than just hold onto.

    Utopias are becoming more important as people become more powerful (e.g., computers, genetics, potential global prosperity), since the future is going to be largely be something we create rather than just witness. This makes dystopias more important too, but as cautionary tales rather than defeatist predictions.

    Another novel I like that contains all the elements -- a utopia, a dystopia, and our present time (that will determine which path is taken) -- is Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Pearcy

  • Utopian novel: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by netfunk ( 32040 ) < minus physicist> on Monday August 19, 2002 @10:34PM (#4101623) Homepage
    The only thing I can find that is a (happy) Utopian novel is B.F. Skinner's Walden II, which is honestly a very interesting read. The book interested largely in the mechanics and psychology required for such a society, with just enough plot to keep Skinner's ideas moving.

    I have been told that it was the basis for Brave New World in some form or another, but it might just be Skinner's ideas that Huxley was borrowing from/parodying.

    I suppose you could count the original Walden (which has no relation to Walden II beyond the idea of utopia), but living alone doesn't qualify as Utopia...after all, the reasons that Utopias fall apart are...other people.

    Sartre was right, after all.

    Also, the concept of "Utopia" is usually written about for the sense of irony...reference we can find lots of stories like Animal Farm: good intentions turned to mud by human flaws. The point of Utopia, from a writers view, is to trample on it, generally. Take that for what it's worth.


  • Utipoia as Dystopia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @10:38PM (#4101648) Homepage Journal
    A favorite of mine is Villains by Necessity [] by Eve Forward...
    What if good were so totally triumphant that it became a worse danger than evil, and a band of unemployed evil characters had to go on a desperate quest to find the means of putting the saving bit of evil back into the world?
  • Its a bit too dreamy, but definitely highlights some brilliant ideas. Ecotopia is a VERY nice vision of the future.

  • Earthlink should go all the way, and offer WebWasher service. WebWasher goes way beyond stopping popups - it stops banner ads, too.

    So far, WebWasher has removed 270,110 banner ads for me. Including the ones on Slashdot. WebWasher can double the speed of page loads on dialup connections, just by eliminating the ad traffic. Yes, a few sites detect WebWasher, but you probably don't want to look at them anyway.

    WebWasher needs some work; the individual version isn't being updated. But it's still ahead of the competitive products.

    After using WebWasher for a year, I've almost forgotten that the Web used to have advertising.

  • Under the category of utopian novels, I nominate Pacific Edge, the third of the Three California's trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Each of the three books tells an alternative future of Orange County California. The first is post-apocalyptic, the second is dystopian, and the third is eco-utopian. In Pacific Edge he tells a story of the struggles of a 2065 community fifty years after the US collectively decided to abandon heavy industry, outlaw large corporations, and replace concrete metropolis cities with small sustainable interconnected communities. Without preaching, Robinson draws the reader into the story of his characters' lives in this naturally beautiful could-be world. Another gem from the author of the Red-Green-Blue Mars trilogy.
  • A small list: Be warned, however, that some of these are reasonably depressing, despite being about utopias...


  • As a college senior I did an independent study course on Utopias. Here's the ones I remember referencing off the top of my head:

    Utopia - Thomas Moore
    Dispossessed - Ursula K. LeGuin
    Ecotopia - Ernest Callenbech (sp?)
    Looking Backward - Edward Bellamy
    City of God - St. Augustine
    The Republic - Plato
    State and Republic - V.I. Lenin (not a utopia per se, but an example of someone trying to implement one in the real world...).

    There are a lot of utopias that are not central the book they're in, but are there nonetheless. An obvious one that spring to mind is the Lotus-Eaters in Homer's Odyssey. Mythology has an abundance of them: Shangri-La? Xanadu? Atlantis?

    Many of these are a little more historical than the ones I've seen posted so far. In many of them what you're reading is the author trying to tell you that they've figured out what society should be like, and postulating that if we all ran out and implemented their proposed society we'd have heaven on earth. Half the fun of reading them is figuring out whether they will work, or why they won't.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard