Wednesday, 26 February 2003

Obligatory daily meta-post

Mark Pilgrim has an interesting post today on using rewrite rules to configure Apache to keep out nasty bots; if you run your own server, it's a must-read.

In order to be a good boy myself, I hacked up the trackback module in LSblog to obey robots.txt files, even though I'm not sure it's strictly necessary (the worst it can do is go two posts deep in a site: once to find a trackback URL, and once to access the URL). But, on the upside, it should stop some 403 errors with tracking back to Google.

Since I'm sort-of-iced-in (although the promised ice storm hasn't materialized here, I didn't feel like risking being stranded away from the house), I also moved LSblog to mod_python 3.0.1; it took some fiddling with RewriteRules to make it all work nicely. It's currently using the CGI emulation (which incidentally is buggy — apply this patch), although I'll probably move to the Publisher module eventually, mainly since it has a cooler interface. Currently both the main page and the RSS feed are being served via mod_python; it seems to have halved the page-load times. (There's still some icky database queries that have to be run each page-load; maybe eventually I'll stick a reverse caching proxy in front, if the load ever justifies it. But currently my load average is pegged at 1.00, so I'm in no hurry.)

Hmm. The whole "obey robots.txt" thing didn't work out as well as hoped; it seems we might want to access a cgi-bin directory, but robots are normally excluded from those. (I guess it boils down to a question of how autonomous a robot must be before it's a robot...)

Deeply strange hoodoo. There must be some wacky interaction between LSblog's trackback and Mark's tb.cgi; the comment count goes up, but the comments page doesn't get updated.

Not shielding much

As I read more about the so-called “human shields” going to Iraq, I have to say I'm becoming even less impressed with them. As Daniel Drezner suggests today, the human shields aren't risking their lives; Tim Blair's conclusion over the weekend was similar, and Virginia Postrel pointed out yesterday that many of them don't seem to be playing with a full deck:

Clue for the clueless: Orphanages already have human shields. They're called "orphans."

It's like their thought process goes something like this:

  • Dubya wants to bomb Iraq.

  • Dubya hates brown people.

  • Iraq is full of brown people.

  • I'm white.

  • If I go to Iraq there will be white people there.

  • Dubya won't bomb Iraq if whitey's there.

To which there are a number of responses:

  • The "Dubya hates brown people" premise is intensely stupid and demonstrably untrue, if you've noticed (a) his cabinet and (b) his family.

  • Even assuming that the premises are accurate (which they're not), Dubya still gets to kill lots of brown people, even if your stupid white ass is in the way.

  • You're a potential Democratic voter in 2004. The Iraqis aren't. Dubya actually has more incentive to attack Iraq after you go there, because not only does he get to shore up his support with the bloodthirsty hawk warmongers, he also gets to reduce the number of people who might vote for his opponent in 2004. Same goes for Tony Blair and John Howard.

  • The only place Noam Chomsky's belief system is valid is within his thick skull. Try thinking for yourself for a change.

Perhaps Salam Pax was right when he called them War Tourists. Even that might be too charitable... at this rate, they'll be seeing less action than a hooker at a Promise Keepers' convention.

UNSC Watch

Steven Den Beste has taken a valium since yesterday. Porphyrogenitus has a lengthy analysis of what the proposed UNSC resolution actually says. Conrad is reminded of The Prince — not the one from Minneapolis, by the way. And, for the completists out there, you can read all 18 UNSC resolutions dealing with Iraq since it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Me? I like HappyFunPundit's resolution. Strangely enough, it's like the U.S.-British-Spanish proposal, but translated by Subliminal Man.