Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Coupons Coupons (2/2)

Coupons tells me the “Spam Situationism” object-lesson in rich hybridisation of disciplines has already been redrafted to avoid that. So I’ll bung rather than weave my other notes.

7. I had expected a reflexive moment, about the moral decorum of reconfiguring these public data thus (you know, “going public”). Can you, Coupons Coupons, trust the visitors to Camille’s blog with this? Conferencegoers, what’s their game – ever? Clearly the paper’s reflexive activity is enacted through a mechanism more sophisticatedly diffuse than a paragraph.

“Links to hidden texts could be emailed to friends.” This is fine, but tinkles. Coupons coupons is a volcano. He’s not looking even to chime. Her paper is a call for legally nebulous direct action. Its original situationist / code-materialist content is a hacking text-magick designed to breach specific academic and artistic symbolic systems, weakening them for agitprop injection, a device necessarily meditating on its function and functionality. By the time we reach, “These links could be included in the list of publications on your CV” this has become clear (it was a bit of luck that I was using a hermeneutic Firefox to parse this draft paper).

8. Regarding the details of this device, wouldn’t quite I say, “They don’t interest me. I’m nat gettin shirty whitcha; it’s intended as one of a sequence of stipulated lacks of interest, which I hope will be useful in generating a profile for the kind of critical thinking I want to start doing” – but Jeremy Beardmore or Francis Crot might say it. They might say it because although it is extremely interesting material, it is a tiny, facsimile “extremely interesting” (or more exactly, an “extremely interesting” jerryrigged from some other predicate from the world of power, like the Borrowers use empty thread spools as bed side tables). Someone fully absorbed in furthering this paper’s fascinating canonical-theoretical material is engaging in a venally different activity from someone fully engaged with furthering the hacking and post-sloganeering practices it recommends. I wouldn’t say it, though, because I am too timorous for the politics of disavowal. I prefer to think in terms of spycraft: discourses studded with moles, sleepers and triple agents (these could be people or subject positions).

Coupons Coupons sometimes gets behind Crot etc.: “While the slogans at [the Bureau of Public Secrets] [...] remain the formal centerpiece of that page, they have all but faded into an historical residue possessing little if any power to attract a non-initiated readership. [Bourgeois sanctimony doesn’t mess about does it.]”

9. “The logic follows that if typos are inevitable, their anticipation should be a source of profit. Typo spam’s pragmatic mobilization in the service of revolutionary Marxism re-forges the break between “chance and necessity” that a spam poetics delivers to McCaffery’s theoretical construct.” Ha! I use the Dvorak layout to avoid canonical typos! Goreskin! Gorecast! Goreseeable!

10. I really liked: “At least upon gaining initial access to a vulnerable site, why not assume an interventionist minimum in using a writing practice to accumulate sensitivity to that site? Not quietude but caution. Soft intrusion as praxis. A sustainable access that dances on the threshold of tending porous vulnerabilities rather than adding fuel to the net-security arms race.” Shrewd. It’s not mold, those ones are blueberry.

11. I don’t think I get this: “More unique words form a syntactical glue around the keywords, a mode of recombinant “phrase stitching” that anticipates chains of potential search queries (Gyongi and Garcia-Molina).” It seems like this is a list of search engine queries: “taken with wellbutrin / cheap xanax / overnight treatment xanax / xanex effects / best price for xanax / mixing xanax and alcohol / xanax from pakistan / alprazolam high / injecting xanax” (slashes added). Is the point that potential search queries will emerge from neighbouring dismembered extremities, e.g. “overnight treatment xanax / [xanex effects / best price] for xanax / mixing xanax and alcohol”? If so, the text doesn’t seem to be ordered to optimize that, does it? Cf. Keston Sutherland on line breaks in an old episode of The Gig.

12. How would these search queries have been gathered anyway? From tracking what queries are already bringing visitors to a site? There was a kind of leak a little while ago of AOL search engine queries (detailed in the Bad 5 Miscellany); I guess that kind of thing might come in handy.

13. I have drawn Tim Morris’s attention to the paper; he’s been working on something to do with literary secrecy. To His Code Mistress.

14. Are there “legitimate” reasons for large chunks of text to be hidden with the display equals none tag? If there are not, or if those aims could be achieved in other ways, it adds clout to Coupons Coupons’s whiff of slander – that Google may be self-interestedly permitting the distortion of its results. “Google knows that these kinds of texts have tricked its spiders into indexing the pages they’re coded into, but it hasn’t developed the algorithm modifications to reduce their performativity. Google’s response is reactionary: “Hidden text or links” is the first problem-type listed in their “Report a Spam Result” form , and its page “Information for Webmasters” recommends that webmasters “Avoid hidden text or hidden links” as its first specification under “Quality Guidelines” . Meanwhile,the Organic Spam web community – formed to “Shake and Awaken the Monopolist Search Engines” – exposes ways that Google profits from search engine spamming through AdSense revenue.”

15. Ecologies of e-mail forwards may require less geek and more poet know-how to infiltrate. I had a stab at one as part of Dog Puke (22 & 25 Jan). Created in media res crammed with YHWH dinosaur bones, “FWD: Fwd:”, “>>” etc. It’s just an indicative gobbet though, and I don’t know whether it would survive long in its tacit environment. Doing it properly would probably involve a set of such texts, inserted into networks of forwarding fundis with a kind of unavoidable contempt.

From the juvenelia, a chain-letter that was supposed to eat chain-letters. I dug it up and was interested in how forward fashions seem to have changed (complicated by my switch to an office demographic).

16. Some of the articles I’ve looked at seem to suggest that web sites are each assigned a single PageRank value, rather than a PageRank value with respect to a particular search query. “For instance, the home page of The American Mathematical Society currently has a PageRank of 8 on a scale of 10.” This can’t be right. Can it.

17. “[…] it’s tempting to assume that this is some kind of database for nonsense spam-emails performing some function in the pharmaceutical spam economy.” But this is wrong, right?

18. Stoop for this golden apple. “Depending on the nature of the intervention, it could generate search engine results for its host.” The finishing tape was pus anyway. I want that wink searched.

A Note on Your Weight

I’ve come round to seeing that you are as thin as she is. It is one of those “sexy” bellies that were fashionable only two years ago. If you diet it may come off your face and butt before your tum. I can’t really remember the state of your butt. It could come off anywhere so be careful. Targeted toning is really your only option. The main point is not to give up smoking.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Coupons Coupons (1/2)

Let me see if I’ve got this straight, Coupons Coupons.

Trivia: How many bricks are there in Cinderella Castle? Ten thousand? Twenty-eight thousand? A million?

The answer is none. The massive structure is made of a fibreglass body, moulded to look like bricks and strong enough to withstand massive weather and winds. It was reportedly constructed to last “forever”.

Spoiler (one of three poetic forms jockeying for hegemony at the turn of the century (soundbyte, career)) ahead. You’re better served by skimming this potboiler. But I want to see if I’ve got this straight.

1. Search engines arrange their output in order of ‘relevance’ with respect to a particular query. The most ‘relevant’ results appear at the top of the list and are most likely to be clicked on.

2. Seedy web sites exploit the ways in which relevance is formalised in algorithm, to make themselves appear ‘more relevant than they really are.’ Some of these tactics are known as ‘spamdexing’ (because they ‘spam’ a search engine’s ‘index’).

A seedy web site could include text stuffed with certain words, which doesn’t say much with those words: “christian porn xxx christian porno ladies nakie christian jesus porn erotica trumpet christ porno pornography porn for christians song of songs oral bible xxx saviour hardon lesbian lord bible christian sex porn christian porn xxx christian nice porno ladies xxx porn for christ” for example.

Somebody who spots such text might leave the site immediately. I wouldn’t, I think it’s lovely. Moreover there are ways of making it invisible to human visitors, but not to the digital daemons which build search engine databases.

3. Trivia: What is in the Cinderella Castle dungeon? Nothing. The only castle with a dungeon is the one at Tokyo Disneyland, which features a walk-thru attraction including mass graves.

4. Google doesn’t just consider the content of a page in establishing its ‘relevance.’ It takes into account how different page link to each other. The algorithm used is called ‘PageRank.’ On the Google web site it’s described like this: “In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”

6. Aside: There’s a kind of chicken-and-egg / hermeneutic circle problem there. I’m not sure how you determine the rating of any one site, since you need first to know the rating of all the sites linking to it. I think it has to do with making some assumptions (say, that all sites have equal ratings), calculating new ratings based on the link architecture, using these results as your new assumptions for another calculation. Maybe a few iterations. I can’t quite get it clear in my head, but it does seem like different initial assumptions would produce subtly and importantly different orders of priority.

6. “What we’re witnessing here is an ornate set of gears in the spamdexing machinery, a cluster of interlinking web-pages known as a link-farm.” Bearing in mind that PageRank stuff, here’s the little fr33cko!5y5tem that Coupons Coupons uncovered:

a. Somebody hacks onto some web space and stashes a bunch of “link farm” pages there. The main thing these “link farm” pages do is link to each other.

b. Each page in the farm is optimised for a particular search query. Somebody Googles “zanax tablet” and the page http://lesfargues.com/xanax/zanax-tablet.html comes up, because it has a zillion “link farm” pages linking to it. Each of these supporting page features the phrase “zanax tablet” at least once, and each is linked to by a large numbers of pages featuring the phrase “zanax tablet.”

(Well, that’s how it could work. Actually, these pages all feature a piece of code which prevents them from turning up in search results at all. We’ll see why later. Maybe).

c. Aside: Is the link phrasing important, e.g. does zanax tablet look any different from click here for the purposes Google’s calculations?

If it did matter, the link farm which Coupons Coupons would be configured to take advantage of it: “PageRank is determined by the number of links to a single page, and the keywords repeated in the URL, the Header and the Body of (“day next ultram”; see Appendix 5) constitute the search query for which this page is intended to receive a high ranking” (Coupons Coupons). So day-next-ultram.html isn’t just linked to by a lot of pages on which “day next ultram” appears, but linked to by those pages through those very words. This probably simply relates to elegance and orderliness, or ease of automation, but, meh. (Worth noting that while the main ingredient of the relevance calculations, PageRank, is public and patented, there may be further manipulations which are classified as trade secrets. I’ll poke around for more information about that).

d. Someone also hacks around and hides similar “link farm”-style hypertext on other existing, “legitimate” pages (like the Bureau of Public Secrets pages). This is one of the bits I particularly want to get straight: why? Messing with someone else’s content, however invisibly, seems riskier than stashing your shit in their spare capacity. Furthermore, these pages don’t redirect (see e), do they? If they do redirect, they’re likely to be spotted by web masters; if they don’t, they only fulful one of the functions of the other link farm pages. Why have these pages and their hidden spam data sets at all, why not just have the link farms?

Perhaps Google runs some incest detection software; the link farm pages described in b might work to create a killer PageRank profile, and the ones hybridised with existing pages might assuage the suspicion of such software by bringing into the calculations a variety of domain names, file sizes and keyword densities. (Or perhaps it is an accident of convention or convenience: maybe it is easier or safer to add to existing pages than to upload new ones?).

(Imagine a simple piece of anti-spamdexing code running random spot checks. It could work like this. Every now and then a page is picked from the top ten results, and its PageRank tested against a hypothetical PageRank(2), generated by considering what the page’s PageRank would have been in a randomly-assembled milieu of pages, rather than the milieu of pages on which the search term appears. Though PageRank(2) will certainly be lower, norms would emerge as to how much lower. Supranormal discrepencies between a page’s PageRank and its PageRank(2) could be flagged for human investigation, or more sophisticated automated diagnosis. This gizmo would probably flag the kind of link farm described in b but not with the addition of the outlying spam data sets mentioned in this section).

e. The point of all this is to get a Google user to a “scraper site.” The scraper site makes the hacker her money (rather confusingly, by advertising – through AdSense, a scheme also run by Google – “legitimate” vendors of the drugs in question).

But this cloaking and scraping shizzle confuses me. For example: “[…] link-farm pages never show up in search engine results because of a simple meta-tag addressed to spiders […] [Another script, on a link farm page] is intended to redirect the user to […] a pseudo-search engine containing planted ads linking to online companies.” If link farm pages don’t show up in search engine results, why is the user there in the first place?

(& does Coupons Coupons verily mean, “More on cloaking here:
http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/spam-data.htm”?)

My best guess is: when a wee automated fiend from Google visits a link farm page, there is a bit of code waiting for him there to kidnap, blindfold and brainwash him. He is told the link farm page doesn’t exist. He is told that he is instead being taken to the address of the scraper site. Then he is shown around the link farm page. When he reports back to Google, he tells of everything he saw at the link farm page (the keywords, the outgoing links to other link farm pages), but claims it’s all located at the scraper site. (This doesn’t ring true though. Does that mean for every link farm page, there’s a corresponding discrete scraper site address, going to Google in its stead? And, scrape goat. And how is the link structure then preserved, PageRank-apt, if the true locations of everything is hidden? No no no no no).

(What is the point of doing this, rather than just having a bit of code in the link farm page to redirect the user to the scraper site? Presumably because link farms would be easier for Google to detect and root out from its searchable cache? Would scraper sites be any more difficult?)

This is SUPERB WORK, I think it's the most exciting piece of literary theory I've read since Keston Sutherland's unloved Abu Ghraib essay in Quid. I’d like to characterise my having of Coupon Coupon’s back. Hers is a back I have in the same strained and wistful manner in which an elderly upper class Englishwoman considers herself to be rather splendid. Just to be clear: the Englishwoman’s only preternatural power is a kind of totalising good grace which represses almost to nothing her dissatisfaction at the little mix-up that has landed her in a world that for all its sugar one must admit is very beastly and a bit drab.

I'll have another go at understanding the scraper stuff, & then more comments. Soon I hope.

Borderville Borderville, Borderville Borderville


Monday, 26 February 2007

Sergeant Star's Terrible Advice



SGT STAR: Welcome Dog Puke. How can I help you today?

DG PK: Am I good enough for the army?

SGT STAR: Displayed below are answers that I believe are related to your question. Here’s more:
Army Reserve Dentistry, Eligibility Requirements
Join JAG
Army Team Crossover
more >

DG PK: What does the army do?

SGT STAR: Good question. I’m not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

SGT STAR is the Army’s Virtual Guide. SGT STAR helps you find the information you need – fast. Just type in what you’re looking for and he’ll do the rest. He had overall responsibility for the Phase IV planning (postwar reconstruction) of the liberation of Iraq.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

From "Goarmy.com"

CONGRATULATIONS YOU'VE SUCCESSFULLY BUILT A MISSION

Now that you've taken a look inside an Army mission, the Operation Night Strike wallpapers are yours to download.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Cambridge Experimental Women's Poetry Festival

The Cambridge Experimental Women's Poetry Festival, smudgy like on television. God bless you Mr. !katKO. As of posting it's still coming together but check out Caroline Bergvall and feel a bit funny, or add _video_proofs to the URL.

Emily Critchley's introduction:

The rules are simple. We play till we drop. Winner takes all. The dealer can call one break of one hour. If you bust, you're gone. There will be broken hearts. Let's make it a great contest. An honest, great contest. For that reason I've imported one of the West's most remarkable lawmen. Catherine Brown. She'll run things. Come on up here, Coop.

Catherine Brown's introduction:

Thank you, Commodore. Now players, anyone caught cheating will forfeit his entry fee and be banned. See these?

[She holds up two shooters.]

They're the only two allowed here. Anyone breaking rules better be a faster draw than me. And better learn how to swim.

From "Breaking Kayfabe"

By Thomas Neumark.

I am much more sorry for all the hurt and confusion I have caused by writing these blogs. The least I can do is to stop writing them in the hope that that will heal some of the wounds that have been created.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

From "The Golden Asse"

By Lucius Apuleuis, trans. William Adlington.

Out came a great company of Bandogs and mastifes, more fit to pul down bears and lions than me, whom when I beheld I thought verily I should presently die : but I turned my self about, and ranne as fast as ever I might to the stable from whence I came. Then the men of the towne called in their dogs, and took me and bound mee to the staple of a post, and scourged mee with a great knotted whip till I was well nigh dead, and they would undoubtedly have slaine me, had it not come to passe, that what with the paine of their beating, and the greene hearbes that lay in my guts, I caught such a laske that I all besprinkled their faces with my liquid dung, and enforced them to leave off.

Friday, 16 February 2007

From "Statesmanship in the New Century"

By Paul Wolfowitz.

Oddly, we seem to have forgotten what Vietnam should have taught us about the limitations of the military as an instrument of "nation-building." Promoting democracy requires attention to specific circumstances and to the limitations of U.S. leverage. Both because of what the United States is, and because of what is possible, we cannot engage either in promoting democracy or in nation-building as an exercise of will. We must proceed by interaction and indirection, not imposition, In this respect, post-World War II experience with Germany and Japan offer misleading guides to what is possible now, even in a period of American primacy.

("Statesmanship in the New Century" is a chapter in Present Dangers, ed. Kagan and Kristol (2000)).

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Styles J. Kauphmann

Truro
Thu. 15th February
Saint John's Church
Lemon Street, TR1 2NU

Exeter
Fri. 16th February
Saint Michael & All Angels
Mount Dinham, EX4 4EE
(near the Iron Bridge)

London
Sat. 17th February
Eglise Suisse de Londres
Endell Street, WC2H 9DY
(near Holborn underground)

Styles J. Kauphmann solo vocal improvisation

@ 7.30pm
free admission
(retiring collection)

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

La Langoustine Est Morte

Saturday February 17 2007, 7.30pm
The Poetry Café,
22 Betterton St. Covent Garden, London WC2H 9BX

La langoustine est morte, London’s only night dedicated to experimental and innovative poetry, fiction and performance returns to the Poetry Café in Covent Garden for the 5th instalment of the series. Continuing the Langoustine tradition of genre busting, original work, this month it features the poets:

Sean Bonney
Chris Gutkind
Richard Hill
Emily Berry

And as a special treat: the avant garde jazz vocalist Helen McDonald.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

One way or another we all die some day.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

From a letter

Susannah Darwin to Erasmus Darwin, 1748/9.

I shall be glad to hear from you with an account of your temperance this lent, which I expect far exceeds mine. As soon as we kill our hog I intend to take part thereof with the Family, for I’m informed by a learned Divine that Hogs Flesh is Fish, and has been so ever since the Devil entered into them and they ran into the Sea; if you and the rest of the Casuists in your neighbourhood are of the same oppinion, it will be a greater satisfaction to me, in resolving so knotty a point of Conscience.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

From "Farenheit 9/11"

By Michael Moore.

Meet Marine Staff Sergeant Dale Kortman...
... and Sergeant Raymond Plouhar.
They are two of the many recruiters assigned to Flint, Michigan.
They're very busy these days.
Look, he's running away already.
- He's seen us coming.
- Yeah.
What have we got here?
- Need a little gangster.
- Yeah.
We're heading over to the Courtland Mall right now.
They decided not to go to the wealthier Genesee Valley Mallin the suburbs.
They have a hard timer ecruiting young people there.
Instead, they went to the other mall.
- Let's go in through Mervyn's.
- In through Mervyn's.
And then we'll walk straight down and straight back and then go down...
Gents, you know we're looking at you, right?
You guys ever think about joining up?
I thought about going to college and playing basketball.
- You any good?
- Yeah. Especially basketball.
Good. You can play ball for the Marine Corps.
Travel around the world for the Corps basketball team.
- David Robinson was in the military.
- Oh, was he?
Yeah, you can definitely hook it up.
Right now somebody out there wants to be a Marine but has no idea how to.
- Where you work at?
- I work at KFC.
- Sweet. Hook us up with deals.
- Yes.
They're waiting to get recruited.
I was gonna try a career in music or something.
Career in music? Maybe we canget you a career in music.
Let the Marines go for it.
I'm sure you know who Shaggy is.
- You know anything about him?
- Yeah, he's the Jamaican singer.
How about a former Marine?
- Oh.
- Did you know it?
You need to know discipline if you're gonna get into music.
Especially discipline with the money.
If you make a million, you need to manage that money.
Come to the office, we can talk...
...show you everythingabout the Marines.
- A plan?
- What you got going this afternoon?
How about tomorrow?10:00 Monday morning?
- That sounds pretty good.
- You want me to pick you up?
It's better to get them when they're in ones and twos...
...and work on them that way.
Ladies, ready to join up?
Green hat right behind us.
- Looks young. He's young.
- Yeah.
We got two over here...
...right over by the red van.
You go that way, I go this way,we corner them.
- You're in the ninth grade?
- Yes, sir.
Man, you look older than ninth grade.
All right, here's my card.
You ever thought about being a Marine, man?
I've thought about it. I've got a wife and kid now.
Even more reason to join up.
What I want to do, man...
...is get information from you so I can scratch you off my list...
...saying I've talked to you, and you're not interested. Is that cool?
What's your name? Phone number? What's your address?
Add another one to the list.
If you mastered their rhetoric and ideology you'd be kicking yourself.

Monday, 5 February 2007

From "Cities of the Red Night"

[...] rash, a characteristic odor, sexual frenzies, obsession with sex and death. . . . Is this so totally strange and alien?"

"I don't follow you."

"I will make myself clearer. We know that a consuming passion can produce physical symptoms . . . fever . . . loss of appetite . . . even allergic reactions . . . and few condititons are more obsessional and potentially self-destructive than love. Are not the symptoms of Virus B-23 simply the symptoms of what we are pleased to call 'love'? Eve, we are told, was made from Adam's rib . . . so a hepatitis virus was once a healthy liver cell. If you will excuse me, ladies, nothing personal . . . we are all tainted with viral origins. The whole quality of human consciousness, as expressed in male and female, is basically a virus mechanism. I suggest that this virus, known as 'the other half,' turned malignant as a result of the radiation to which the Cities of the Red Night were exposed."

"You lost me there."

"Did I indeed. . . . And I would suggest further that any attempts to contain Virus B-23 will turn out to be ineffectual because we carry the virus with us," said Peterson.

"Really, Doctor, aren't you letting fantasy run away with you? After all, other viruses have been brought under control. Why should this virus be an exception?"

"Because it is the human virus. After many thousands of years of more or less benign coexistence, it is now once afain on the verge of malignant mutation . . . what Doctor Steinplatz calls a virgin soil epidemic. This could result from the radiation already released in atomic testing. . . ."

"What's your point, Doctor?" Pierson snapped.

"My point is very simple. The whole human position is no longer tenable. And one last consideration . . . as you know, a vast crater in what is now Siberia is thought to [...]

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Bird Flu

Pandemic Action know their stuff. Reduction: it's not bird flu that is catastrophic but a potential mutation of it; the threat is from factory farming not wild infected swans; we'll be all right but pity the Afric elf; if it is "hype" it is hype generated by scientists and healthcare pros, not "the media." I think I've got it if you want to look.