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Home > Weblog w/e 24.3.2001

Saturday 24 March 2001, 23:25 GMT
The Stress Relief Aquarium has been updated. Now Version 3 provides even more means of torturing a poor, defenceless goldfish.
Courtney Love isn't going to let the record industry off the hook. [Via Metafilter]
The Bulwer-Lytton Award is good fun, but there's something to be said for brevity. Enter the Lyttle Lytton contest. [Via Memepool]
Ruth Shalit has written a deeply funny piece for Salon on the pathetic attempts by some companies to find out just what bleeding edge "alpha consumers" are into.
Foot and Mouth disease meets The Good Life. [Via NTK]
The Happy Woman Rules (Track Him, Trick Him, Trap Him!) Which I found via an even funnier discussion thread about the article on Three Way Action.
Friday 23 March 2001, 23:55 GMT
I went to see Sam Raimi's The Gift this evening. Although I guessed the final twist a good ten minutes before the film's climax and many of the characters were steretypical small town Southern rednecks, Cate Blanchett's superb performance as the psychic struggling to make ends meet and made the whole film work. Worth a look if you want to spend a couple of hours being pleasantly scared.
Spot the fake Linux distribution.
Greg Knauss' Free-Association Filter suffers a catastrophic failure.
Attention, Fat Corporate Bastards! [Via NTK]
Wednesday 21 March 2001, 23:55 GMT
Salon has announced plans to launch a subscription-based premium edition alongsde the current banner ad-subsidised site. At US$30 per annum for no ads and the possibility of "premium" content, I'll certainly seriously consider subscribing, but the example of Slate's experiment with a subscription-based revenue model doesn't bode well for Salon's plans.
Belgium Doesn't Exist. It's all an evil socialist conspiracy apparently... [Via Haddock Directory]
S Club 7 stars busted for drug possession. Yes, really.
Good vibrations. Elephants can communicate over tens of miles via low-frequency ground vibrations. Sadly, this sensitivity to low-frequency vibration may imply that elephants which live in zoos may be disturbed by vibrations caused by traffic. [Via Honeyguide]
Does the Amazon site represent a good model for delivering news online? Ellen Kampinsky, Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis have written a paper suggesting that news sites can learn a lot from the way Amazon aggregates data from a variety of sources and tries to identify patterns in user preferences. They've written a fascinating article illustrating the concept and analysis what Amazon does well and how that same model could be applied to news. [Via Metafilter]
Google meets the Swedish Chef. [Via Ironminds Weblog]
Tuesday 20 March 2001, 23:00 GMT
Taco Bell offers free tacos for everyone in the United States. However, there's a catch... [Via Frownland]
Are we all quite sure that George W Bush and J Danforth Quayle are actually two different people? Has anyone seen the two of them in a room at the same time? I only ask because President Bush seems to be doing his damndest to mangle the English language every bit as thoroughly as his father's vice-president did. Slate has gathered together a hilarious list of "Bushisms", including this beauty:
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."
In a similar vein, Salon reports on the emergence of "Bushonics," including a translation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution into Bushonics:
"Guns. They're American, for the regulated militia and the people to bear. Can't take them away for infringement purposes. Not never."
I'm so glad they've cleared that up... [Via Looka!]
Salon also has a longish profile of Kate Bush, who sadly seems likely to be remembered more as the inspiration for Tori Amos than as one of the most individual, passionate female pop performers of the last twenty years. Amy Standen's piece is pretty good on the reasons Kate never made that big an impression on the US market, painting a convincing picture of a woman who really doesn't care that much whether the rest of us get what she's doing, sitting with a piano in a studio and singing her heart out.

If I have one criticism of Standen's article, it's that she doesn't spend enough time on the album that might well be Bush's very best, The Sensual World. It wasn't a huge hit, even in the UK, but it contains several exquisite songs, most notably This Woman's Work, which compare with the very best work she's ever done.
You Can't Do That On Star Trek is home to a huge array of images juxtaposing images from Star Trek with other pop culture classics, from South Park to Peanuts to The X Files. My favourite entry is the one by Kriton Kyrimis (scroll down to the third image on the page) showing Star Trek: Voyager's Doctor in a somewhat different, but very fitting, guise. In fact, now that Robert Picardo's gig in the Delta Quadrant is coming to an end, the BBC could do a lot worse than give him a call if they're serious about reviving the finest science fiction show they ever did. OK, so Picardo isn't British, but he just looks so right in the picture.
Jennie Bristow writes in praise of supermarkets.
Monday 19 March 2001, 23:00 GMT
From Maxim's History of Sex:
1883 A.D. The term lesbian is first used to describe a homosexual woman. Prior to this the word had been associated with fellatio, as it was said that the women of Lesbos were without peer in this regard. The Greeks, it’s worth noting, also gave us irony.
[Via MISCmedia]
Toonopedia: everything you ever wanted to know about the world's most famous cartoons.

I'll freely admit that when Lindsay Marshall referred to this site in his weblog, I thought he was pointing his readers to an encyclopedia about all things Newcastle upon Tyne-related.

Note for non-UK readers: "The Toon" is a Geordie slang term for the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
My Ideal Girl. No, not mine: his. [Via linkmachinego]
Revealed: the awful truth about the foot and mouth outbreak. [Via Yet Another Web Log]
Big Diet: the latest variation on a theme from the producers of Big Brother. [Via the null device]
Chris Eubank interviewed, post-Celebrity Big Brother, by Deborah Ross for The Independent. The man may be a prat, but he seems to be pretty genuine and the sheer fact that he keeps coming back for more despite being ritually slaughtered in the media every single time he opens his mouth makes him worthy of respect. (Not to mention that he was a genuinely talented, brave boxer in his day.)

I wish Ross hadn't spent so much time quoting Eubank's lisp: we all know he has a speech impediment, thank you very much. It's one thing to hear him talking, when it's inescapable, but except for the odd case where she's relating that she misunderstood him it seems pretty irrelevant to the purposes of the interview except as part of the standard DIY Chris Eubank interview template. If she was interviewing someone with a strong Georde accent, say Jimmy Nail, she wouldn't transcribe his words phonetically, so why do so for Eubank? [Via linkmachinego]
Sunday 18 March 2001, 23:45 GMT
Timewasting.net is a highly worthwhile site, which I found via a link from Martin Griffiths' equally good weblog, qwertyuiop.org.uk. As well as a weblog section, timewasting has some good rants, like I [heart] 81 and i casei immunitas. Both sites are highly recommended.
The Polos Of Death. Why couldn't they have met Jar Jar Binks instead... [Via NTK]
NCR are suing Palm and Handspring, claiming that their PDAs fall foul of a patent NCR registered in 1987. It's unclear to me how exactly the idea of a hand-held computer which can "store data" and pass data to other systems courtesy of a "module for coupling said device with said other system" is a particularly original idea, especially since I hadn't noticed that NCR were ever in the PDA market. As usual, this looks more like a shakedown attempt than a serious attempt to defend a patent, and it'll undoubtedly be settled out of court.
Betty Bowers - So Close To Jesus, He Validates My Parking. Brilliant stuff, even if it is shooting fish in a barrel. I can't resist quoting one of my favourites in full:
Dear Mrs. Bowers:

Sometimes when I am alone at night, I touch myself in an impure way. I seem to have no control. I want to stop because God and Jesus don't like it, but I can't!

How can you help me? Timmy, Age 14

Dear Sweet Sullied Child of Christ:

Remember next time you are about to cinch down your little BVDs to delight in the Satanic pleasures of the flesh, that while Mommy and Daddy may not hear your little adolescent moans, everyone in Heaven can. You see, every single person in Heaven can and does watch everything you do! Dead Grandpa! Dead Great-Grandma! And all your dead pets!

They all know if you succumb to the impurities of carnal delight - and whether you wash your hands after using the restroom. Jesus' mother, Mary, while waiting on tenterhooks for a promotion from the Pope, is not only in the habit of watching, she is alarmingly adept at video recording.

If for any reason the knowledge that you are being watched heightens your pleasure, then you are wholly given over to Satan and there is nothing I can do to help you at this point.
There's much more where that came from... [Via NTK]
Does the ability of people to find news sources and discussion groups which match their prejudices on internet undermine the basis for democratic debate, by allowing voters to tune out opposing views? If you think so, you might want to try explaining why this is more of a problem than the prospect that you might buy a newspaper which echoes and reinforces your views. This isn't about the internet at all, it's about intellectual laziness. If anything, the ability to participate - if you're so inclined - in debate with those of opposing viewpoints on the internet is likely to make you think through your views. [Via Techdirt]
Having been off-limits for fifty years, the Korean Demilitarized Zone has become home to a number of unique flora and fauna. Ironic or what? [Via the null device]
Coca-Cola on tap in houses? Surely this has to be an early April Fool's joke. I mean, can their Chief Executive really be called Donald Daft?
The German government is ditching plans to use Microsoft software in militarily-sensitive departments because they've decided that they can't trust American software. It all sounds a little suspicious to me. The Register reports that the German foreign office were persuaded that the NSA had "backdoor access to Microsoft's source code" by a briefing from Deutsche Telekom. Guess which large German company supplanted Microsoft?
Scott McCloud: My Obsession With Chess. Sheer class, as always. [Via linkmachinego]
Women seduced into debt by web. Or rather, people with no self-discipline behave in a financially irresponsible manner and blame the firms that advertise their wares. [Via timewasting]
Slashdot has a good, wide-ranging Q&A session with Clay Shirky. Well worth a look.

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