Moving Down the Blogroll

It’s been a while since I’ve clicked-through to the sites on my blogroll, mainly because of an innovation called Bloglines, a free web-based RSS aggregator. It seems I’ve missed a lot.

First, Dr. Byron has moved to TypePad. I’m thrilled, because that means he now has a XML feed I can read.

Martin Roth still doesn’t have a feed, but his commentaries are as provocative (a good thing in this case) as usual. Read this week’s and tell me if you’re as irritated about this growing trend as I am.

Perfect Morality: Theory and Application

Something (seemingly unrelated) that I heard today got me thinking about moral relativism – the belief that right and wrong is determined by a person’s culture. Of course, Christians believe that morality is the unchanging expectation of a perfect and holy God that none of us can live up to.

However, just because the law is unchanging doesn’t mean we always follow it. Sometimes, the temptation to fulfill our self-interests leaves God’s will at the wayside. (Sometimes?)

As an example, consider speeding. I don’t know how it works where you live, but in Hawai’i, a “Speed Limit 50” sign means you go 65 to keep up with traffic, and the police won’t give you a second glance. However, God commanded us to obey the laws of our government, because it exists as His representative. The only exception I can see is when doing so directly violates one of God’s laws.

There is only one right way in any given situation. Ask God to tell you what it is. Our sinful nature will often make it difficult to hear Him, but rest assured that there’s always a correct solution to any problem, no matter how twisted and impossible it may seem.

White House Deflects Search Engines

Slashdot is reporting that the White House web site is including a large number of directories including the word “Iraq” in its robots.txt file. (For those less technically-inclined, a directory in the robots.txt file is a way of asking a polite web bot, like the one Google runs, to ignore certain parts of a web site.)

Text searches for “robots,” “bots,” and “crawlers” returned no results; a search for “search” didn’t return any relevant results. I couldn’t find any other official explanation for the very odd robots.txt file, a small part of which I’ve quoted here:

Disallow:	/911/response/iraq
Disallow:	/911/response/text
Disallow:	/911/sept112002/iraq
Disallow:	/911/sept112002/text
Disallow:	/911/text
Disallow:	/afac/index.htm/text
Disallow:	/afac/iraq
Disallow:	/afac/text

As you can see, there appears to be a combination of /iraq and /text lines for most of the Disallows. The /text lines make sense, if you consider that the site wants most people to find its fancy snazzy graphical pages first. The purpose of the /iraq lines is less obvious, since most of those directories don’t exist or don’t have an index.html page.

A number of theories have been put forth regarding this. Most agree that the cause is a script designed to generate the robots.txt file that was coded badly, but there’s disagreement as to why there was any attempt to impede the retrieval of information on Iraq in the first place. You can see a wide range of opinions at the ./ post.

Personally, I’d like to hear Dean and Josh’s take on this.

UPDATE 10/27 10:22 PM – A comment by mlc buried deep in the thread links to a plausible explanation of what’s going on. Basically, the huge robots.txt file is designed to prevent spiders from crawling different templates, all containing the same content.

While this doesn’t convince me that the Bush administration is innocent of cover-ups, I think the /. community blew this one way out of proportion.

Native Hawaiian Recognition and the President

Yesterday, one area of concern was raised several times during the President’s visit – the necessity of Hawaiian Federal recognition. Governor Lingle reportedly discussed the issue with President Bush in his limo, and Senator Ed Case handed a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

The issue, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is a crucial one in Hawai’i’s future. Governor Lingle and Lt. Governor Aiona, and all four Congressional representatives, all support the bill. (Talk about bipartisan.)

Yet, despite all this urging, Mr. Bush made no effort to mention any of this during his campaign fundraiser. Yes, I know the speeches are canned, but I’m sure he has publicity people that hound him just as closely as the Secret Service does.