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Home > Weblog w/e 30.9.2000

Saturday 30 September 2000, 22:35 BST
The Foil The Filters contest has closed, and found a worthy winner:
Joe J. reports being prevented from accessing his own high school's Web site from his own high school's library. Carroll High School adopted filtering software which blocked "all questionable material." This included the word "high."
As you'd expect, the contest results page is a testament to the uselessness of filtering software. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Possibly the oddest film title of all time, I'd think. [Via Blue Lines]
I was looking round for a good Buffy The Vampire Slayer web site to check which episodes of season 4 are crossovers with Angel and I came across this rather neat film poster.
Is this true? Perhaps I've just been unlucky so far...
Thursday 28 September 2000, 22:00 BST
The Guardian interviews Sir Arthur C Clarke, the Greatest Living English Science Fiction writer.

His recent novels may have been disappointing (in particular, you should definitely avoid his collaborations with Gentry Lee), but the man wrote Childhood's End, The City And The Stars, Rendezvous With Rama and The Fountains Of Paradise and a host of excellent short stories and non-fiction popular science books - not to mention 2001: A Space Odyssey, the best science fiction film ever made - so I think we can cut him some slack.
Yet another stunning Astronomy Picture Of The Day. This loop is 30 times the size of this planet.
The US is developing "self healing" minefields. I have this horrible vision of confused mines leaping all over the landscape after an explosion. [Via Metafilter]
Wednesday 27 September 2000, 22:20 BST
Attack monkeys?! Now there's a thought. [Via The Guardian]
Giving the customers what they want. [Via the null device]
Tuesday 26 September 2000, 21:45 BST
Jar Jar Binks: The E! True Hollywood Story!!! This I'd like to see. [Via Dark Horizons]
Microsoft Trial 2.0 is coming. The Register is unimpressed, and they're right. By the time this is over with we'll be up to Windows 2003 and Internet Explorer will be so tied into everything Windows does that the court's decision will be irrelevant. I suppose this means it's up to Linux to make the world safe for PC users.
Monday 25 September 2000, 22:30 BST
The Observer published a long, mostly uncritical (not to say positively adoring), interview with Anna Nolan, aka the "lesbian ex-nun" from Big Brother, at the weekend. Much of it was about what you'd expect, but I thought the most interesting part dealt with the ousting of "Nasty Nick":
I wonder whether she felt the people who did read his notes but failed to blow the whistle were just as culpable. 'Yes. We had a lot of arguments after that. People were saying, why didn't Mel and Tom shout about it? And Craig: Craig's brought it up now that he's been nominated, but why didn't he bring it up before?"
Oddly enough, none of these arguments ever showed up on screen (as far as I can remember). I wonder how far these recriminations shaped the next couple of rounds of nominations?

Does it show that I'm still missing Big Brother? There's a massive BB-shaped hole in my evening's TV viewing even now, more than a week after the finale. Roll on Big Brother 2!
The Barenaked Ladies have decided to have some fun with Napster. Good for them. [Via Metafilter]
There's a major row on rec.arts.sf.written at the moment because a complete copy of Frank Herbert's Dune has recently been posted there, sparking off the sort of furious debate about copyright infringement you'd expect in a newsgroup where several published writers and a few professional editors hang out. Several of the pirates' supporters claim that they're not anti-writer at all, they just think that the world's intellectual property laws are screwed and need to be rewritten to cope with the age of digital media. As you'd expect, the majority of posters have this strange idea that if their favourite authors and their editors, publishers and distributors can't make money by publishing their fiction they may just lose their income entirely, leaving us all to wade through a slushpile to find the odd gem.

One potential solution to this problem is the Street Performer Protocol, which allows fans to deposit sums of cash which will be released to an artist once all or part of their current project is released into the public domain. Artists get paid, works get released into the public domain rather than yanked out of circulation if a publisher decides not to produce another print run, and artists who try to string their audience along with sub-standard work find that people won't put up money in anticipation of their next project.

It all sounds like such a good idea, but the problem was that nobody had tried to implement it. Now that's changed: OpenCulture.org plans to act as the "banker" and match artists' requests for funds and fans' donations, on condition that the resulting works are released first to the patrons who paid up, then into the public domain. I think this could turn out to be a very interesting experiment indeed; I hope they manage to get some somewhat high-profile artists to take part, so we can gauge whether it's only the Stephen Kings of this world who can make selling art by instalments over the internet pay.

This doesn't do anything to relieve the "Napster problem" that leads to the distribution technology being used to create bootleg copies of work against the copyright holder's express wishes, but it does potentially open up a means of distribution that could reduce the reliance of new artists on a distribution system which is open to wholesale abuse of copyright, and thus liable to be shut down or at least under constant threat of legal action. [Via Memepool]
Sunday 24 September 2000, 22:00 BST
French mayor outlaws death. What can I possibly add to a headline like that? [Via Yet Another Web Log]
I wish I could find a larger version of this astonishing photograph, taken in the middle of a major forest fire in the States. [Via Pigs & Fishes Weblog]
Olympic silliness abounds.
Avedon Carol explains in layman's terms precisely why Net-Nanny software is both ineffective and pernicious. Something to show my bosses, because we're due to get desktop internet access at work next month. [Via Yet Another Web Log]
Spider Robinson (no relation) is a frustratingly inconsistent science fiction writer and critic, but he's always a good interviewee. He talked to January Magazine about flipping Dan Quayle the bird and how he got the name "Spider", and how his unusual moniker weakened his bargaining position somewhat when his daughter wanted to change her name.

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