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Saturday 14 April 2001, 23:55 BST
Just a quick mention of a couple of really good films on TV tomorrow. At 2.55pm on BBC1, Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin star in Fly Away Home, a heartwarming tale of a young girl and her father bonding as they help a bunch of geese migrate. It might sound like just another uplifting kids' movie, but it's actually a very, very good bit of family entertainment. I'm not the only one who thinks so: read the BBC's own review (written by Tom of plasticbag.org, no less).

Tomorrow evening, Julia Roberts, Rupert Everett and Cameron Diaz are all superb in My Best Friend's Wedding, which may not be the most serious film ever made but it's terrific, feel-good fun.
Anyone out there looking for work might think of giving this vacancy a try. [Via CamWorld]
Being Jon Katz. A pretty fair-minded defence of the most hated person on Slashdot.
XML is touted by every web pundit worth their salt as the next revolutionary technology that'll shake up the internet. There's no shortage of highly technical discussions of the applications of XML on the web, but those of us who aren't interested right now in the details of schemas and ontologies but would like to understand a little of the implications of this latest revolution might prefer to read Bob Cringely's overview of XML's significance and the Scientific American article on the Semantic Web by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila.
How will commercial TV networks react to the rise of the Personal Video Recorder? Todd Lebor suggests that the more we all dodge the commercial breaks, the more prevalent product placement will become. [Via Techdirt]
Series 7: The Contenders sounds like a film to look out for.
Woman sentenced for posing nude with guns. There's stupid, then there's truly moronic. [Via pie in the sky]
Channel 4's Top Ten: Pop Princesses is a sadly substandard edition in what's usually been a pretty decent series. I'm sorry, but Kate Bush was not a pop princess, and ranking Kim Wilde and Kylie above Lulu and Britney Spears is a travesty.
ZooDoo: Ever Wonder Why Jungles Are So Lush? Watch the elephant carefully. [Via BBspot]
Programs That Refuse to Stay In the Background. Rob Pegoraro writes about one of the most irritating trends in modern Windows software. What he doesn't mention is the really, truly infuriating aspect of this behaviour: for those of us who aren't touch-typists having another program pop up a dialog box can result in our typing on and activating an option we didn't want to, or at the very least dismissing the dialog box so we didn't get a chance to read whatever message we were being presented with in the first place. [Via Techdirt]
Friday 13 April 2001, 23:15 BST
The hype for Steven Spielberg's next project, AI has stepped up a gear with a very interesting web-based strategy: a host of web sites which purport to belong to organisations and individuals which appear in the film. Ain't It Cool News has a list of the sites, Plastic has a longish thread on whether this is net.abuse or an ambitious attempt to provide some background to the film which wouldn't fit into the screenplay and wouldn't get noticed if it were published as a set of appendices to the novelisation of the screenplay.

I'm slightly dubious about the way the studio has scattered fake domains all over the place which will show up in search engine results long after the film has come and gone, and even though I'm keen to see the film I'm not terribly interested in going to the trouble of trawling through the entire list of web sites for what must of necessity be background material not required to follow the film's story. However, it would be insanely cool if the material from the web sites could be incorporated in the inevitable Special Edition DVD release some day.
It being Easter, a couple of rabbit-related links. First, The Washington Post reports on the work of a bunny masseuse who works as a volunteer for a group called Friends of Rabbits which tries to find homes for abandoned pet rabbits. The article pays particular attention to a particularly ill-tempered "killer rabbit" called Cyrus who sounds very much like Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance (except that as far as we know Cyrus can't speak English and hasn't gone on the rampage in a killer robot lately).

Second, CamWorld brings us this delightful image of the Easter Bunny. [Washington Post story via Guardian Weblog]
Harvey R. Ball, creator of the Smiley, RIP. [Via Metafilter]
Beware, Evil Programmer at work.
32. Obscure film references Use constant names like LancelotsFavouriteColour instead of blue and assign it hex value of $0204FB. The color looks identical to pure blue on the screen, and a maintenance programmer would have to work out 0204FB (or use some graphic tool) to know what it looks like. Only someone intimately familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail would know that Lancelot's favorite color was blue.

If a maintenance programmer can't quote entire Monty Python movies from memory, he or she has no business being a programmer.
[Via Ponderous Ponderings]
The Downward Spiral. Scary... [Via Sensible Erection]
Fan2000's Plumpers Central. Eek! [Via Metafilter]
Thursday 12 April 2001, 23:10 BST
Not one, but two significant space anniversaries today: the twentieth anniversary of the first flight of the Space Shuttle, and the fortieth anniversary of the first manned space flight, by Yuri Gagarin.
New NVIDIA Video Card Enhances Flesh Tones.
In 24 bit color mode the Dermatrix 3000 allocates 15.3 million colors to flesh tones, 1 million to hair tones, and the remaining 400,000 colors to eye pigmentation. "It's really amazing the hue gradations that we can get in the flesh tones," said NVIDIA engineer Jonathan Chang, "You wouldn't think the human eye could pick up such amazingly subtle differences, but it really makes a difference in the surfer's experience. If you know what I mean!"
Heh.
Henry Hill, the mobster whose book was adapted by Martin Scorsese as Goodfellas has a web site. And as you'd expect of any, ah, retired mobster now living under an assumed identity, his site has a Threat of the Week page.
Generation Bankrupt. Damien Cave has written an article for Salon about the plight of many Americans in their twenties and thirties who ran up huge credit card debts during the dot.com boom and are now having to file for bankruptcy.

The article's focus is on US domestic and economic policy, since there are legal changes afoot which will make it easier for credit card companies to avoid paying the price of lending money to people who plainly couldn't afford to service the debt and still eat, but what astounded me was the sheer short-sightedness of some of the folks whose plight Cave describes. One guy used a dozen credit cards to buy US$70,000-worth of shares - which is to say, stocks to the value of no less than twice his current salary!

I have a lot of sympathy for people who are thrown onto the dole at short notice and grab the chance to use credit to help them cope in the short term until they land a decent job (though of course this can backfire horribly too), but what was this guy thinking?
Wednesday 11 April 2001, 23:15 BST
Sir Harry Secombe, R.I.P.
Anvil firing. Noisy fun. [Via Memepool]
The next James Bond? Nooooooooooo!!!!!! [Via Groke]
"Attack of the Mad Shitter" by Paul T. Riddell. Whatever you do, don't read this at work unless you're really good at stifling hysterical laughter. [Via Plastic]
Disturbing Search Requests. I heard of this site ages ago but only got round to actually paying it a visit yesterday. I really wish I'd visited earlier: it's an amazing compendium of the weird, kinky and just plain icky.
Server 54, Where Are You? Now that's what I call reliable. If it was running Windows NT, they'd have had to dig it out inside a month. [Via the null device]
Tuesday 10 April 2001, 23:55 BST
BERLIN - The Germans are planning an attack. Not the most tactful start to a news story, but it's entirely accurate in this instance. The German Interior Minister has seriously suggested that if hosts based outside Germany persist in making sites which peddle far-right political propaganda (which is illegal in Germany) available to German-based internet users then the federal government may have to mount Denial of Service attacks against the ISPs and web hosts concerned. I can't see the United States (or anyone else) taking that sort of behaviour lying down, and I rather suspect that the proposal will be quietly buried..
Matriculate Promotion Intrust Goldsmith Hegelian Housewife Graduates. Excuse me? Come again...

My guess is that the page is an experiment to see just how many search engines catalogue the page and how high it moves up their rankings. I'm not sure how the email addresses fit into that scheme though, unless it's simultaneously an attempt at measuring the amount of spam they receive as a result of being posted on a web page. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Mitchell Stephens continues his quest for evidence of the effects of globalisation.
Top Five Animals I Hate The Most.
5. [...] Manatees are the fat goth kids of the ocean. None of the other sea dwellers like them, no one likes them except fat goth kids and SeaWorld employees.
[Via little.yellow.different]
Monday 9 April 2001, 23:15 BST
The Register's LogoWatch feature invites readers to analyse the hidden meaning of The Register's own logo, with predictably hilarious results.
Bruce Sterling: 'Free as Air, Free as Water, Free as Knowledge.' Nine years ago, Bruce Sterling warned us about the coming storm over intellectual property rights. [Via Metafilter]
Coming Attraction: Paxman -vs- Blair.
Sunday 8 April 2001, 23:00 BST
Following his experiences last month following a conspiracy theorist who was investigating the Bilderberg Group, Jon Ronson moves on to an even wackier subject: David Icke. These two extracts from Ronson's new book are hilarious. Ronson has a lot of fun observing as Icke's supporters try in vain to explain to their opponents that no, Icke wasn't speaking in anti-semitic code and yes, he really did mean the world was being run by lizards. Literally.

So who are these lizards? Icke has named, among others, Ted Heath, George Bush (Senior and Junior), Bob Hope and, um, Kris Kristofferson. Oddly enough, none of them have sued him for libel, so of course you know what that means... [Via linkmachinego]
Teachers To Feel 'Smack of Firm Government.' Classy humour from The Brains Trust. Trust Them. They Know.
When it comes to producing a hit TV series, one of the tricks is knowing when to stop. It's usually better to quit while you're ahead, even if it means disappointing some fans. I fear that the recent renewal of Frasier for another three years is going to be a classic illustration of this principle: the show hasn't been the same since Niles and Daphne got together. [Via PopPolitics]
Jack Beatty reviews IBM and the Holocaust, and concludes that the bottom line shouldn't be the be-all and end-all. It should be an obvious point, but in an age when the untrammelled pursuit of profit is seen as some sort of natural right it bears repeating.
The Genius Lady: now women can pee standing up too! [Via blogjam]

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