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Lyle Zapato

Blog RSS Feed

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-04.2100 LMT | Site

This blog now has an RSS feed, as per the suggestion of someone on the guestbook. It's still experimental, but works well enough to get the last 10 posts without having to go to the trouble of coming to the site.

I'm trying it out with the actual post in the <description> element instead of a summary, since these posts can't be summarized automatically. So if you use an aggregator you can read the whole post in it. (Depending on your software, the images may be broken as I have been using relative paths for them instead of URLs.) Of course, this makes the XML file somewhat large (~30 Kio currently). If this arrangement if too unwieldy, let me know.

Also, RSS 2.0 insists on an email for the <author> element in order to be valid. Since I haven't implemented per author emails yet, all posts will have my address on them, but with the actual author name listed in parenthesis. Don't worry, I will forward all your philately-related queries to the Philatelist.

Feedback on improvements is welcome.

The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Belgium #745

The Philatelist | 2004-11-30.9700 LMT | Philately | Belgian Conspiracy

Good day. Mr. Zapato has graciously allowed me to post some of my articles on interesting stamps in his web-log, provided I stick to topics of interest to his readers and do not indulge myself too much with the more rarefied aspects of philately. So I fear my eight part essay on the sublimity of the common hinge is right out.

Belgium #745
A quartet of Adeles and a 'Belgian' reach an accord to allow the deployment of psychotrons on the continent. The shifty eyed fellow on the far left is no doubt looking out for Ferretoid raiders.

For my first offering, I'd like to present a stamp from Belgium. By 'from Belgium' I of course mean printed on behalf of the Belgian Conspiracy. As my host has pointed out on numerous occasions (too numerous, I must admit -- he's quite obsessed with it), Belgium does not in fact exist. Nevertheless, their stamps do exist and are wonderfully collectable -- although I do advise being careful when handling them as their glue contains psychotropic compounds derived from the bark of the cacao tree that can cause hallucinations of being in a Belgian chocolatier's establishment.

This particular Belgian stamp (Scott #745) commemorates the decadal anniversary of the Antarctica Pact of 1961, being of course the pact between the Belgian Conspiracy and the native penguins of the antipodal region to allow the placement of psychotrons in the penguin's rookeries, to be defended from Ferretoid sabotage, so as to psychotronically Shanghai the passengers of passing tourist ships and grow the ranks of the Belgian citizenry. A mutual pact with the comical birds was necessitated by penguin immunity to the psychotronic manipulations commonly employed by the Belgian Conspiracy, the penguins having evolved a natural resistance from their eons of struggles with psychotronically adept and penguinivorous cetaceans. Penguins are delightful little chaps, but they have little native sense of right or wrong and their loyalty can be purchased in mere herring.

While of nominal value to serious collectors, this stamp would make an excellent starter for a young philatelist's topical collection of interspecies conspiracies.

That is all for now. Happy philateling!

Lyle Zapato

Unauthorized Links Cost Companies Billions

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-30.6000 LMT | Complaints Department | Letters

Yesterday, I received the following email (details excised, since I don't want to unleash a mob of torch-wielding cybervigilantes on the parties involved):

Lyle, I am writing to you from [company name] regarding a link that you have to us from your site Zapatopi.net. Listed as a [name of product they sell] site on your links page. Realizing that this link does not help either one of us we are asking that you please remove [company URL] from your site.

(This was from someone who doesn't actually work at the company in question, but for some agency hired to promote them or handle their Internet presence or something of that nature.)

My response, again excised of details, was:

I'm sorry, and I don't want to be an argumentative jerk, but that request is just silly and pointless.

A link is a reference to a site and does not imply any sort of relationship. I even put a disclaimer to that effect at the bottom of the page, even though it's common knowledge, since someone else got all worked up over a link there before (it was this guy: http://www.stopabductions.com/ who wraps his head in Velostat to keep the aliens from abducting him; wonderful company you're keeping, huh?)

Asking me to not link to your company is equivalent to asking me to not talk or write about it. If I were writing an article for a print publication about [making things with product] and I added "You can buy [product] from [company name and business address]", would you really think it sensible to contact the publisher and request that the article be altered in future editions so as not to mention you? Doesn't that sound just a bit... paranoid?

Furthermore, considering the reference I am making is to simply point people toward a source for [product], without commenting on [company] itself, I have a hard time seeing why this would not be of help to you. While it's very probable that no one has bought any [product] from you as a result of being directed to your site from mine (it is after all one link buried among many), I can't imagine who would be dissuaded from buying any because I linked to it. And even if I were to try and imagine such a hypothetical weirdo, the former is an immensely more likely scenario than the later and I'm only left to conclude that on average the link would be more help than harm.

All that being said, I'm not wedded to your company, since I chose it merely because it came up on a Google search for "[product]" at the time, and would be willing to substitute the link to another source of [product]. As it says on your website "[company is one of only three that make product in the US]" If you will provide me the name and URL of your two competitors, I'll go ahead and link to them instead and advise all AFDB users to shop there and avoid [company] and its products (without linking to you, of course).

Regards,
Lyle Zapato
(I request that you don't utter my name aloud.)

To which was replied:

Thanks for your response, and no, of course you're not an "argumentative jerk" We recently learned though, and would share this info with you, that the request is not "just silly and pointless." It's actually costly. It has become a new and unexpected issue for us. I'll explain. International industry standards for some manufacturing companies DEMAND that companies respond to any and all messages, even if they are not relevant to their busimess [Freudian slip? Just kidding.] AND DEMAND they do it with a certain set of protocols (we'd call them a "pain"). This activity, I've been told takes a lot of time and costs companies money; if it is relevant and a possible prospect, it's certianly worth it. Otherwise...well, you know...

Curiously enough, while we spend a good deal of time on search engine optimization so that others can find us. For some, we even pay to have listings, and we try to encourage cross alliances and listings of websites, for some clients it backfires. Honestly, very few extraneous visitors come to their site because of yours. This has just become a bit of an issue...one they'd like to avoid.

Of course, when someone does want [list of products company offers], we welcome the query! That's all.

We did enjoy our visit you your site. Good Luck with it. [name withheld]

So there you have it... PEOPLE OF THE INTERNET: Remove all links to companies that have not had their marketing agents enter into cross alliances with you! You are costing businesses untold billions of dollars in expenses for replying to very few visitors that they are DEMANDED to respond to. Or something.

(P.S. I have changed the link to a Chinese supplier of [product], who have a better website anyway, albeit in Chinese. Presumably I won't be able to read the emails from their marketing agents, so I'll never know if they want me to remove their link. Out of sight, out of mind.)

Lyle Zapato

GPM #9: Broadband The FCC Cat

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-29.9870 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots | Letters | NWO

Broadband the FCC fat cat

Broadband is a cat who works for the US Federal Communications Commission (under Michael K. Powell, your FCC pal... wait, that was last week) at the FCC Kids Zone. Broadband teaches kids all about electronic communications and why the FCC has authority over all of them.

This communicatory omnipotence is conveyed by having Broadband explain about all sorts of things that you wouldn't normally associate with the FCC and its original mandate. For instance: How to safely unplug a USB device. Kids will learn that whenever they have questions about any form of electronic communication -- be it TV, cellphones, VoIP, email, floppy disks -- that they should turn to the FCC for guidance and governance.

Most deviously, Broadband's appearance -- a fat cat -- subtly conditions kids to find Big Media fat cats, whom the FCC are in cahoots with, cute and cuddly, thereby producing a generation of obedient IP consumers who will happily and unquestioningly accept ever more consolidation of ownership of media outlets. In addition, having a cat wear a striped FCC sweater (along with intermittent "wardrobe malfunction" witch hunts staged with the help of said fat cats) furthers the FCC's agenda to indoctrinate a fear of toppal nudity in the youth of North America in order to sell more RFID-tagged shirts, which of course need FCC approval to be sold, thereby extending the FCC's reach into your dresser drawers.

Oh, and you can email Broadband too! Here's what I wrote him:

Hi Broadband! You're my second favorite Federal government agency cat mascot after the NSA's Crypto Cat!

Why do you suffer from disfiguring facial twitches? Is your "GO" collar causing harmful electromagnetic interference? I would think you would have made sure it was in compliance with FCC rules before purchasing it.

What is Michael K. Powell like to work for? Does he give you generous holiday bonuses? Does he let you attend Council on Foreign Relations meetings? Can you get me his autograph?

Why aren't you wearing any pants? Isn't that indecent?

Thanks!

Your pal,
Lyle

I'll update if he writes me back.

Lyle Zapato

Beanied RaLouchites Take The U-Dub

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-23.9360 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control | Fashion | General Paranoia
Lyle Zapato

GPM #8: Pat, Your Passport Pal

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-22.8000 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots

Pat, your Passport Pal

Pat, your Passport Pal works for the US Department of State under Colin Powell, your (soon to be ex-) Secretary of State Pal, where Pat teaches kids that they are not allowed to go anywhere without government approval.

You see, Pat isn't just a state issued document designed to control and monitor your travels abroad and show the government's ownership of you, he is your Pal. You like carrying him with you. You welcome his presence and wish you could bring him along everywhere -- even when traveling within your own country! People who disapprove of Pat's friends from the government occasionally asking to see Pat as you carry him around your neighborhood are meanies! Why do they hate Pat so?

Much like the infamous infant tactoprogramming tool Pat the Bunny, Pat the passport subliminally invites you touch him, to feel the texture of his faux leatherette cover, to run your fingers along his edge, enjoying the rounded corners of his pages, and, yes, to even pat him gently as he nuzzles inside your coat pocket. You know you want to.

On Pat's corner of the State Department site you can play some fun games with Pat, like guiding him through a maze to the Great Seal, matching flags to countries, or a word find game. (Can you find "PLO"? Hint: it crosses the "plo" in "diplomacy." Maybe Pat's a fan of Equidistant Letter Sequences made famous by the Bible Code.) There's also fun State Department trivia: Did you know that the first Secretary of State to travel outside the US while in office was William H. Seward, who visited the Caribbean in 1866 and met with Danish and Spanish colonial officials and the Presidents of the Dominican Republic and Haiti? Now you do! See how much fun it is to play with Pat?

Lyle Zapato

Wired Magazine Spying On ZPi

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-22.7270 LMT | General Paranoia | Site

The December issue of Wired magazine, which is guest edited by a dripping wet James Cameron (the man behind the reverse-psychological propaganda movie called the Terminator), has plundered ZPi for story ideas. On page 046 they have an articlette entitled "When I Grow Up, I Wanna Spy on the Neighbors!" that's about Government propaganda aimed at kids using cute mascots. Sound familiar? Four sites are mentioned, two that I covered (NRO and NSA) and two (FBI and CIA) I didn't because they were too obvious and others have pointed them out in the past.

Mere coincidence, you say? Consider this: Digital hipster central Boing Boing, which includes a number of correspondents who write for Wired, posted a piece about the NRO Jr. site on Aug. 29th. They cite a piece on Joi Ito from the 28th, which in turn cites some Livejournal entry with a cut-n-pasted IM dialog linking to it on the 20th, with no further citations. My piece, which resulted from specifically looking for governmental kids sites, was posted on the 19th.

Clearly something fishy is going on here involving the upper echelons of the fashionable technorati conspiring against my blog by stealing my low-effort shtick. What's in the next issue of Wired? Xeni Jardin presents a series of slapdash artworks of people wearing foil hats? The technology behind the McLuhanator Mark XI? Push Belgium?

UPDATE: here's the online version of the Wired article.

Lyle Zapato

GPM #7: President Putin's Pals

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-17.8550 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots | Nature

Russian president Vladimir Putin isn't the creepy, ex-KGB technocratic spook that you might assume. Oh no! He's actually a nice guy who gets along with children -- and not just because he looks like Dobby from Harry Potter. In fact, he has his very own kids site (in Russian) called Uznay Prezidenta, where Russian kids can learn all about how their government works and what a swell guy Putin is!

The site features three cartoon kid mascots -- bespectacled Dobrinya, adventuresome Ilyusha, and touchy-feely Alenushka -- who ask Putin various questions and learn various fun Putin facts. For instance, did you know that president Putin does not have a right to allow Russia to be conquered and lose its independence and that, as the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Russia, he is obligated to make the Russian military invincible? Fun and factual!

Here's uncle Putin's fun response (paraphrased from a Babelfish translation, caveat translator) when the kids petition him to extend school vacations as a matter of civil liberties:

Putin: I am glad that you are already ready to defend civil liberties. It is necessary to learn this from childhood. But it is still more important, and this no longer a joke, to understand what is the most important right for you now.

Ilyusha: The right to the vacations!

Putin: No. The main right of a citizen of school age is the right to growth, to study.

There's even a Putin photo album, so kids can see all the fun the president has. Like that time Putin decided to take a break from running the country and go live with the dolphins:

Putin and dolphins

Good times, good times.

Lyle Zapato

Cascadian Independence Fomentations

Lyle Zapato | 2004-11-15.2550 LMT | Cascadia | Politics | NWO | Bohemian Grove Cabal

The Oregonian has a breezy overview of the Cascadian independence movement that ranges from Ecotopia to the State of Jefferson and all points in between. (It also mentions -- since the author contacted me for an interview -- the modest-but-statistically-notable increase in Cascadia auto sticker sales starting on Nov. 2, which has consequently caused a larger increase in sales since the day the article was published... it's all a vicious circle of profit!)

Anyway, a number of people emailed me recently with Cascadia-related suggestions and questions, which I'll haphazardly address here:

Jason points out that Linus Torvalds now resides in Portland, Cascadia. This means Cascadians are in the position to control both the main closed source (Microsoft Windows) and open source (Linux) operating systems, extending Cascadian influence to most computers on the planet.

Dave, Trina, and others argue that the Bay Area should be annexed along with the coccyx of the Cascade Mountain Range now under Californian occupation. Besides folding Silicon Valley, "a technological-economic power center," into the Cascadian mix, this would give Cascadia control of the Macintosh (as well as the manufacture of Cascadia auto stickers, which are currently being outsourced to San Leandro).

However, most people who advocate Bay Area Liberation underestimate the subtle yet terrifying sway that the Bohemian Grove Cabal has over this enclave. Besides the malleability of the population as a result of the Cabal's persistent, multidecade experiment with mind control on Bay Areaers (a.k.a. Project Aquarius), they could easily repel a Sasquatch Militia attack using their contingent of giant robotic owls.

Before we can even hope to free the peoples of San Francisco and the vicinity from Federalist rule, we need to firmly establish our presence in Cascadian NoCal. Gaining the high ground of the mountains will give Sasquatch Militia boulder throwers an important tactical advantage.

Rob, who has a radio show, thinks that Chicago should become the "Hawaii of Cascadia." While this does suggest the appetizing prospect of deep dish pizza with pineapple (I haven't had breakfast yet), it raises the issue, related to the one above, of how far the Republic of Cascadia should extend.

Over the years, I have gotten emails asking that Idaho, Montana, Alberta, Alaska, the Yukon, and other adjacent territories be allowed to join Cascadia. If we allowed them to join, then of course Wyoming, Saskatchewan, the Dakotas, Nevada, Utah, etc. would all want to join too, which would result in still further territories wanting to join, and so on until everyone in the world is Cascadian. While the prospect of a globally omnipresent Republic of Cascadia may seem a desirable goal to some, I feel it diminishes the main point of the Republic of Cascadia: regional sovereignty. If in fighting far-off Federalist rule, we end up becoming a far-off Federalist ruler, then what was the point?

Of course, the Republic of Cascadia is open to strategic alliances against the NWO with Chicago Free State, Uberdakota, or the Holy Saskatchewan Empire should the peoples of those areas choose to organize themselves as such.

Doug MacDuff

Thermodynamic Law Party Defeat

Doug MacDuff | 2004-11-03.0090 LMT | Politics

My fellow Thermocrats,

I am sad to announce that I must at this time concede defeat in the race for the President of the United States of America.

I would like to thank all the people who put in their time on our campaign. You should be proud to know that your dedication and hard work have helped to lower our nation's net delta increase in Entropy by nontrivial amounts.

While we made great strides in voter turnout among young first-time voters and elderly last-time voters, we were unfortunately not able to get enough votes to surpass the lead of the Light Party in our battleground states. We did, however, manage a strong upset against both the Prohibition Party and the Christian Falangist Party -- proving once again the relevancy of our Make Sense Solutions™.

I will now return to the ancestral MacDuff family ranch house with my wife Dotty, our two daughters Margaret and Frances, and my campaign manager Karlos, where, after a short vacation and some Kelvinic Meditation, we will begin work on our next Presidential bid in 2008.

Nonentropically yours,
Doug MacDuff, Ph.D.,
TLP Presidential Candidate