Archive for the “Villainy” Category

As I was closing the Library last night, I happened to notice a book laying on one of the shelves in the Bound Periodicals section. Not a big deal I thought—someone probably just set it down while looking at an article and forgot about it. As I drew closer I noticed that it was a copy of Joüon & Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, and that it didn’t have a call number label on its spine—apparently someone’s personal copy. However, when I picked it up I started noticing some odd things about the book. Imagine a Library book where the barcode had been peeled off the back, the call number label had been cut out of the protective tape on the spine, and the ownership label had been removed from the front endsheet. That’s exactly what I was looking at. The call number was still written on the inside front cover and indicated that it was from the Reference section.

Was someone going to steal the book, but had a change of heart? Did someone “borrow” it for the semester and then return it? Who knows? You just don’t expect that sort of thing to happen around a seminary. Sure we have security gates, but they’re more to prevent people from accidentally walking out with books than to deter conscious theft. I was troubled and disturbed that someone in the Seminary community would do something like this.

However, the more I think about it, the less troubled I am. Around the Seminary, where everyone is so nice to everyone else (most of the time), it’s easy to begin believing at some level the illusion that we are good people. People out in the world may be sinful, but seminarians are righteous—or so it might seem. But that’s not the truth. Seminarians are sinners like everyone else. Although my particular struggle may not be the temptation to steal library books, I have my sins, and they are just as evil and ugly. Who am I to cast the first stone?

So, to whoever tried to make off with the Joüon-Muraoka, Christ forgives you, and so do I.

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If you tried visiting my site in the past 24 hours you probably received a 403 Forbidden error. Last night I was apparently on the receiving end of a ginormous referrer spam attack. What’s a referrer spam attack, you ask?

Here’s how it works. Whenever you attempt to visit a web page, your browser sends an HTTP request to the server, which specifies the file that you want as well as some other information about your browser and such. If you request a page by clicking on a link, the URL of the document containing that link is sent in the HTTP request. Web servers log these HTTP requests and then log analysis tools can generate statistical reports.

My stats have been publicly available (if you knew where to look), and one of the parts of the reports is top referrers, so I can see where traffic to my site is coming from. The addresses in the referrer report are live links, so when Google’s web crawler indexes my site, it sees these top referrers as sites that I have linked to, which increases their PageRank score. Therefore, if a devious individual can have a bunch of zombie computers make a bunch of bogus HTTP requests with the perpetrator’s site as the referrer, this nefarious person can get a link to their site on mine and thus increase their web site’s rank in Google searches (or perhaps more likely the weight that Google gives to their site when determining the rank of the pages that others may pay them to link to).

I’ve known that this sort of thing has been going on for some time, but the referrer spam that I’ve seen has always been rather light—just a small (though not insignificant) percentage of the traffic on my site. Last night, however, my server was being hit so hard that the server was being overloaded and my web host had to block all web access.

You’ll notice that web access has been restored, although, for now, only if you enter the address directly. Referred traffic is still blocked, so trying to access my site from a link on another site will still be blocked. Perhaps I’ll go in and unblock some of the legitimate sites that I know link to me.

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My car made it to the body shop sometime yesterday afternoon, so after work I headed over to see my car for the first time since it had been stolen. Considering all that it had probably been through, it didn’t seem all that bad.

The rear passenger side window had been broken in—apparently with the brick that I found inside the car. It looks like they tried breaking the rear driver’s side window first, since I noticed three or four impact points with a radial distribution of brick dust. Once inside they did indeed punch out the ignition, which was nowhere to be found. The flat tire was in the back seat, and had about an inch wide gash in the side wall. Apart from that, I didn’t notice any other damage.

The contents of the car had been thoroughly riffled through—with stuff strewn about the floor, the back seat, and the trunk—however, the only things I’ve noticed missing so far are the two portable air compressors (tire inflators) that I had in the trunk. One of them was the old one that had been blowing fuses every five minutes, and the other was the new one (still in the box) that my Mom had just bought me as an early Christmas present. Even my iPod auto accessories (which I had hidden in the arm rest compartment) were still there. (My iPod was with me, of course.) After taking this quick inventory, I loaded up all my stuff into my rental car and brought it home.

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I got the call at 6:30 this morning from the St. Louis Police that my car had been found. I forgot to ask where they found it, but it’s on its way to the impound lot right now. Supposedly, there isn’t much in the way of gratuitous damage (apart from the broken window and punched-out ignition)—just a flat tire, and even then the perp(s) was/were nice enough to put on the spare.

Anyway, it’s been a restless night. I went to bed around 11, woke up briefly a couple times during the night, and hit quasi-insomnia sometime after 4:00. I think I finally managed to drift off to some state of light sleep around 6:00—just in time to be woken up by the phone. ::sigh:: Well, I’m certainly awake now. Maybe I can get a power nap this afternoon.

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My Neon should be sitting down in my garage right now, tucked away for the night. Instead, it’s somewhere on the mean, cold streets of St. Louis. While I was in my library science class, some miscreant busted out one of my windows and drove off with my car. All that was left for me to find was the pile of broken glass.

Please pray that this gets resolved quickly and with minimal cost.

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