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Marilyn's Cursory Cogitations

The articles below are just a few collected, and chronically arranged, ruminations on a wide range of topics, published here with occasional irregularity. This collection of ruminations is just getting started for now, but may hopefully become a more active personal trend, as might the appearance here of additional brief missives as well, from time to time.

Life is sometimes however filled with "interesting times", times that have the ability to generate all manner of distractions and diversions from one's primary aspirations, goals and even life purposes. Sometimes such distractions and diversions intrude to the extent that just trying to maintain course becomes an aspiration in and of itself. However, since beginning active content production for this website a while back, content production provides a sense of fulfillment that seems likely to become infectious.

Marilyn Perry


A Summer’s End

Marilyn Perry - Golden Sunset

reflections on the looming equinox, the harbinger of gray skies

Some parts of America experience nearly endless summer, year in and year out, like southern California, southern Nevada, and Florida. However, it’s a remarkable experience as well, to live in a place where the unofficial end of summer is almost always accompanied by the arrival of seasonal transformations. Some years, including this one, nature’s clock seems to have uncanny accuracy.

This year, just as Labor Day weekend has arrived, the picture book clear blue skies that have provided magnificent backdrops for activities like outdoor photography this summer have been replaced, at least during the Labor Day weekend, by overcast gray skies, an occasional drizzle, and still enjoyable daytime temperatures in the lower seventies rather than the upper eighty degree days that preceded them in July and August. There is something almost comforting and cozy about the change though, even if the changing season means that plans for activities like some remaining summer photography projects will have to be squeezed into whatever sunny days nature has left in store before the equinox. It’s ironic that the relaxing sensation of the late summer’s drizzle is counterbalanced by a sense of urgency that there is limited time left to complete projects that are only possible beneath a searing summer sun and its accompanying cloudless deep blue skies.

In addition to the drizzle, it is intensely apparent that the sun isn’t rising as early in the morning and it isn’t setting as late in the evening anymore either. Even the angle of the sun, its compass direction at any given time of day, has begun to change rapidly each day, as the days grow shorter and shorter toward the solar equinox. The shortening days also give rise to surprise that summer has seemed to slip by in a flash, in between plans for activities that are impossible once the changing seasons have changed the weather with them.

It’s astonishing as well, that all these annual changes, the seasonal metamorphoses, are the product of divine astronomical forces of amazingly enormous proportion. It never ceases to be mindboggling that the very existence of the seasons is the product of the confluence of astronomical factors that took billions of years to evolve. In that context, just to be a human being, alive now, seems like divine provenance in and of itself.

Because of billions of years of universal evolution, humanity exists, riding on the giant spaceship known as earth, a huge water covered rock, hurtling through outer space at nearly 67,000 mph. Every living being on the planet travels 580 million miles every year, even if standing still, while a passenger on the orbiting spaceship that is earth. But spaceship earth isn’t quite upright as it simultaneously spins on its tilted axis, without which the seasons wouldn’t exist, as every living thing on earth experiences them. There is something truly astonishing that so many aspects of earth’s existence are necessary to make the miraculous result possible that every human being experiences and grows to know throughout a lifetime as the seasons.

It seems like one aspect of living well though, is working well with the ever changing phenomenal qualities of nature’s seasonal rhythms, as though dancing in step with the solar system’s subsonic music. But as summer quickly slips away for now, to be absent for months behind the clouds that accompany autumn and winter’s shorter days, the enjoyment of it, and of its end, certainly does seem worth taking the time to appreciate, at least in thought for a moment, as nature shifts the rhythm of its celestial music, before hurrying back to work on everything that needs completing before the many months of cooler rainy days arrive, and they bring with them their own wondrous but very different qualities too, along with anticipation of summer’s return next year.

Thank you for visiting this website, my Marilyn Perry personal website, and enjoying the information and content shared here at

Marilyn Perry

Under Constant Attack

observations about website trespass and intrusion assailants

Running web sites, even a personal website such as this, provides detailed insights into one aspect of the extent and the pervasiveness of evil on planet earth. In this instance, the evil is the apparent constant assaults by would be intruders of various sorts on every one of the millions of web sites running all over planet earth. Even this modest personal web site is subject to a constant barrage of website attackers, trying incessantly to break into it. One has to wonder what exactly all these web site assailants believe they’ll accomplish by breaking in, especially by breaking into a web site such as this. Such speculative questions are relevant because this web site isn’t a bank, a government, or a retailer, with personal customer or citizen information stored in its supporting database.

There seem to be various types of web site attackers though, with varying goals. Some of the attackers are pitiful spammers who mistakenly believe that their desired ability to advertise whatever junk they may be selling, on any and every web site in existence that doesn’t have appropriate security measures in place, would be of some potential financial benefit to them. The persistence of would be spam planting web site attackers implies that somebody somewhere must be generating financial revenue from such activities. Another set of web site assailants give the appearance of being pathetic dark net hooligans who try to break in everywhere they can, seemingly just for sport, most likely while they reside in mommy and daddy’s basement, where they remain slacker slobs living off parental largess. Some of the more organized web site attackers even appear to use automated robotic software tools that crawl the web looking for sites with lax security measures.

Even this modest personal web site is subject to a constant barrage of website attackers, trying incessantly to break into it.

It is apparent from the nature of some of the web site attacks that some web site site assailants believe a given web site may be a good one for them to upload commercial spam advertising. With regard to this web site, such attackers couldn’t be more wrong. Their commercial solicitations would be useless on a site like this one. Nobody who actually views and reads this web site would be interested in the junk they are likely to have on offer. Secondly, if there were security holes in this web site where they could upload something such as comment spam, that spam would never make it through this site’s comment moderation queue in any event. Such spam attempts would be deleted instantly, long before they might have any ability to reach publication.

Based on the breadcrumb trails left by many web site attackers, they have at least some rudimentary knowledge of the various content manage systems (CMS) being used to deploy web sites. For example, some web site attackers look for Wordpress vulnerabilities on this web site, apparently because they haven’t taken the time to notice that this web site is implemented with the Drupal CMS. Other attackers realize that this is a Drupal web site and plan their attack points accordingly. One such frequent attack point is the web address /node/add, in an apparent attempt to test basic web site security regarding the scope of users who have the ability to create new content. When that form of probing appears in the access logs, it is met with an instant IP address ban. Even if the attacker changes IP address, an IP address ban at least puts the attacker on notice that they’ve been detected.

Meanwhile, there appear to be a variety of simple, basic, often relatively low tech measures web site administrators can employ to help keep hackers at a distance. Some of these measures are simple, but apparently aren’t used adequately by many web site managers. The first of these site protection measures must surely be frequent, at least daily, access log review. Manual access log review is a simple a nearly necessary human time and expense cost of having a web site visible to the entire planet on the world-wide-web. Web site owners with the resources and large volume traffic could surely build automated tools with heuristic algorithms that detect and repel various types of attempted intrusions, but fifteen minutes of manual access log review per day, can likely keep the majority of potential intruders at bay. It is amazing how easy it is to see the difference between the page navigation behaviors of real humans reading a web site, versus search engine bots, versus human site attackers, versus automated web site attack software robots.

Another form of security measure is to require real human intervention for certain types of processes. For example, this web site doesn’t allow public user registration. Instead, the site requires that a human being use the contact form to send a request for creation of a user account. This provides opportunity for contact and verification of human registration applicants before account creation. Even once the account is created, Drupal provides a highly granular system of access permissions based on roles, so that users have only the least level of access to the system required to make their permitted use of the system possible. In conduction with human verified user account setup, the comments on a site like this are only visible to users that are logged in with an account. As a result, even if a comment spammer ever gained temporary access, none of their spam comments would be publicly visible in any event.

At an equally fundamental level, it seems essential in the internet era to use a software tool, such as the Drupal CMS, that is developed and maintained by technologists who are conscious of and concerned about security as a high priority. Security has to be implemented as fundamentally as the system’s bedrock design level. Following security recommendations published by the community that surrounds a CMS also seems essential.

Of similar importance, there isn’t any such thing as universally invulnerable software. Consequently, it is essential that software such as a CMS platform be maintained constantly, refined when potential vulnerabilities are noticed or detected by its developers, long before web site attackers have any opportunity to try to exploit them. Checking for and installing the latest Drupal CMS core updates, and updates for all of its extension modules is a fundamental security measure. The Drupal CMS even provides automated tools that check for updates, and displays internal administrative warnings when components are out of date. The Drupal administrative systems have evolved to include an excellent suite of easy to use internal tools. Good web hosting services also provide important tools, even through front end site administration systems like cPanel.

Another essential security measure is frequent and regularly scheduled system backups. With backups, at least if a site is attacked, and the intruder gains access that results in site damage, the site can be restored to its “last known good state”, and the vulnerability patched to prevent future intrusions.

What is most notable, however, is that the endeavor of maintaining any web site in the internet era, from personal web sites to business and government sites, requires constant vigilance from potential web site intruders. The average person probably doesn’t realize that there is an ongoing war being waged throughout the internet, every nanosecond of every day, as every web site and every email server on earth is under constant attack. Given the nature of the internet, most often people running web sites are focused primarily on preventing intrusions, stopping the attackers, while aspects of society such a government seem largely lacking any real competency to address the legions of otherwise invisible enemies, real people in our midst, who are constantly trying to trespass into our virtual cyber sphere abodes, everyone’s email servers, everyone’s email accounts, and everyone’s web sites. It certainly would be entertaining if one day there were online sites with background information about such people, like there are about registered sex offenders, just to see them and know more about who they are and the motivations for their various types of web site attacks and intrusions.

Thank you for visiting this website, my Marilyn Perry personal website, and enjoying the information and content shared here at

Marilyn Perry

Coming to Grips with Gripes

Coming To Grips With Gripes

It is extremely difficult to resist the urge to gripe now and again. It seems like there is just so much to gripe about these days. However, might griping have its own positive aspects?

Some people gripe about the weather. It seems that most weather though, and mostly weather's wonderful variations, are more often worthy of exclamations than gripes. Like a cloudy Sunday afternoon when just the lightest hint of drizzle begins to fall, enough to damped sunglasses, but without any dampening of one's spirits. Or the early morning marine layer, whose foggy mist is really just a harbinger of sunshine by noon and an afternoon requiring multiple sunscreen applications. But griping about the weather, for some apparently long forgotten reason, seems to have been for generations a primary means of simply initiating casual conversation, of filling the otherwise empty voids between verbalizations that give many people cause for minor anxiety. Maybe discussions of weather aren’t as often griping about it, but are simply speculations on that which cannot be controlled.

Could it be though, that much of griping might actually be a precursor activity, a first step toward positive problem solving? Might griping be a negative that by its very nature transforms itself into a positive, by its ability to instigate change?

These days though, probably much like the average days of the past few generations, the landscape of potential griping topics seems huge, immense, sometimes potentially infinite. For example, as a symphonic composer, it would be so easy to lament the fact that the average person doesn’t know or appreciate even the first thing about symphonic music. But that sort of gripe would take time away from composing the music itself and time away from trying to find people interested in playing it once it has been composed. It would also be easy to lament life’s limited nature, its finite certainty. But then, even a few more of life’s very precious moments would likely have been lost, instead of having been invested in doing something that later might have felt worthwhile.

Meanwhile, there is of course politics to gripe about. The planet would probably fall off its axis if people stopped disagreeing about anything and everything, and making everything the subject of political battles intent of controlling the lives those with whom one disagrees. But it seems like so much of life has been politicized these days, that one can only wonder if the universal politicization of life is a positive or a negative, or worthy of griping about in and of itself at all.

Then there are the endless aspects of personal life that people constantly gripe about. Might griping about personal life be a clumsy externalized way of trying to problem solve, of casting one’s problems about in search of a solution, without the courage to directly ask for help in solving them? If so, why is griping quite often considered a sign of social irascibility?

But the gripe, be it in the form of a grousing grumble or even a formal grievance, maybe isn’t quite so bad a phenomenon. Even the formal forms of gripes, for example within a courtroom, as in an objection, has the positive purpose of trying hard to right a wrong in the name of the fleeting goal of justice, whatever that might be. And then, without a protest now and then, as in political protest, of marching through the streets by the thousands, of people calling for change, would so many of western society's improvements of the past many decades ever have become reality? Even in the gripe's most miniscule form as well, the nonverbal moan, maybe gripes are just inevitable, possibly tolerable, even acceptable, if viewed from a positive perspective.

Thank you for visiting this website, my Marilyn Perry personal website, and enjoying the information and content shared here at

Marilyn Perry

Meandering Among Meta-discussions!

Marilyn Perry - Maybe abstract, but meta-discussions are a rampant phenomenon within online discussions

Discussing discussions that become discussions of the discussion

Whether during online forum discussions, or within the context of face to face discussions, I sometimes enjoy discussions that diverge into meta-discussions. Often when a discussion diverges into a meta-discussion, it provides an opportunity, a meta-opportunity really, to observe the ability of the person or people in the discussion to keep track of the primary discussion topic(s) in addition to the subsidiary discussion topics at hand. What is often fascinating about some people is that their minds seem to get blown around like corks in hurricanes during conversation, nearly completely unable to recall or keep track of the original point and purpose of the discussion. What is truly delightful though, is to encounter someone with the intellectual capacity to keep track of multiple topics within a complex conversation about a subject and many subsidiary subjects. People who can keep track of a discussion and its meta-discussions and subsidiary topics are people I want to know and about whom I would like to know more.

In metaphorical computer science parlance, the ability to keep track of multiple conversation topics, is known as execution context. Computer software systems employ a data management structure called a stack to maintain their context. It is quite enjoyable to have conversations with people who are capable of pushing and popping conversation topics on the conversation context stack, so to speak, and who have the ability to remember where they are within both the microscopic context of a conversation and the macroscopic purpose and topics that comprise the primary purpose of the conversation as a whole. Conversely, it is a terribly disappointing experience to be in the midst of a complex conversation with someone, when it becomes apparent that they can't remember the original and primary purposes for which the conversation began, because they got lost in the discussion's meta-discussions.

The very concept of meta-discussion has even become formalized in contemporary discourse.

The very concept of meta-discussion has even become formalized in contemporary discourse. However, some people consider divergence into meta-discussions rude and quite annoying, such as Sarah Fitz-Claridge for example. Admittedly, when meta-discussions diverge extremely far astray, it is apparent that some people get irretrievably lost in them, destroying the purpose for which the primary discussion began. Irretrievable online discussions can sometimes be hilariously amusing to observe however, especially after the fact. They tend to leave a lasting record of their topical bread crumb trails, but sometimes with their topical bread crumbs blown away, far off course, by the gale force winds of meta-discussion that led the conversion astray, creating fascinating artifacts, even if sometimes they are dismaying.

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And so it begins ...

Marilyn Perry - And So It Begins

Pundits claim that generalized, multi-topic, online diaries, or so called blogs, don't work very well. Such notions are probably dependent upon the purpose, nature, and intended audience, of the information published.

In any event, the term blog, even the term "web log" just never seemed at all appealing. Consequently this collection of brief written missives are hereby dubbed Cursory Cogitations.

Thank you for visiting this website, my Marilyn Perry personal website, and enjoying the information and content shared here at

Marilyn Perry