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May 2007 Archives

May 7, 2007

mysteries of the royal lifestyle

I realized (again) this week that I cannot fathom what it must be like to be the Queen.

She is head of state of the UK and other Commonwealth countries. She is immensely rich. She isn't what one might call "powerful", in that her constitutional prerogatives are limited, and her job security rests on not making her subjects angry enough to ditch the monarchy, but she is certainly what one might call "influential". She has many duties, but also seems to sensibly book herself the odd week or several away at one of her country palaces. She doesn't spend her life overseas, but does make the occasional state visit.

This week, for example, she and Prince Philip are visiting the US. Nothing they haven't done before, but this time the itinerary included a visit to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, which according to the BBC "fulfilled a long-held ambition" (elsewhere reported as "a lifelong dream") to attend the race.

How can someone this rich, this influential, and this free (within reason) to do whatever she likes manage to not get around to something as simple as this until she is 81?

May 11, 2007

we need a Department of Taste.

I got my new passport today.

I had a pretty good idea that it would be one of the new RFID passports, but what I didn't realize is that it's also been re-designed. It's not enough that passports from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave be safe, secure, and fraud proof, you see.

Looking at the passport, I would guess that the Department of State had a lengthy consultation with fourth-grade civics classes across the country, maybe culminating in a design competition. The object of this exercise was to produce a passport that would, upon viewing, compel the bearer to arise, place hand on heart, and burst out with a rendition of "America the Beautiful."

The onslaught of patriotism begins on the inside front cover, with the last few lines of the national anthem in a manuscript font (think of all those reproductions of the Declaration of Independence) hovering over an artist's impression of, presumably, Francis Scott Key looking toward Fort McHenry. The page that bears the Secretary of State's message to the reader (now in Spanish, as well as English and French) also bears a quote from Abraham Lincoln. The photo page is accompanied by an extract from the Constitution, grand "We the People" and everything, observed by a large bald eagle. Flipping through the passport, the viewer is treated to an inspiring image of some aspect of America the Beautiful and a patriotic quote on every page; finally, the inside back cover carries an inspiring vista of Space The Final Frontier, accompanied by a quote from Ellison S. Onizuka.

I'm not sure I'll be able to cross borders with a straight face anymore.

May 12, 2007

fighting comment spam

You would think, given the frankly microscopic readership numbers I have here, that comment and trackback spam wouldn't be that much of a problem. If you thought that, you might also think that there's no way you can get sand in your shoes by walking on the beach for half a minute. Either way, you'd be wrong.

I've been under concerted trackback spam attack for the past couple of days, so I've set the "one day only" flag for trackbacks. Since I've never had a legitimate one, I don't think this will be much of an issue.

Although I haven't been under such a concerted attack in comments, I have also had to deal with comment spam for a while now, so I have downloaded, installed, and tested this plugin. The upshot is that you may now only post a URL in a comment here if you are signed in via TypeKey.

If this works to block the spam, I might even think about unmoderating comments. Wild.

About May 2007

This page contains all entries posted to collected eccentricities in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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