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Saturday 14 July 2001, 22:00 BST
The 2001 Bulwer-Lytton Award results are up. I especially liked the runner-up in the Romance category:
As I gazed at my new bride's perfectly round face, with its one eyebrow slightly longer than the other, and listened to the continuous ticking of her grinding teeth as she slept, I grabbed a felt-tip marker, realizing that all she was missing were twelve numbers around the perimeter of her face to remind me this was forever.
Long Live Tony Blair! An American politics junkie gets his fix at Westminster.
Kristin Thomas would like to pack some of us off to Customer School.
A Visual Interpretation of the Table of Elements. The Flash version is, well, flashier, but the HTML version is pretty slick too. [Via Found]
Adam Roberts isn't a sore loser. Oh no. He'd just like to set the record straight about the 2001 Arthur C Clarke Award.
China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station is a tremendous novel, a superbly atmospheric and evocative example of dark fantasy, brimful of innovation and excellence.  And China himself, whom I’ve met, is the nicest bloke you could imagine.  His book deserved to win in almost every respect except for the most important one:  IT WASN’T MINE.
Lassie the Duck. Cute. [Via MetaFilter]
Friday 13 July 2001, 23:30 BST
Coming soon: Ann Widdecombe versus Louis Theroux.
Glow-in-the-dark toilet seats. Call me really sad if you must, but I think these are a neat idea. [Via MetaFilter]
Thursday 12 July 2001, 23:35 BST
X-Wipes. Express your true feelings for your ex-boss/spouse/lover. [Via blogjam]
Meet the Chocolate Nazi. [Via spitfire]
You've thrilled to the popular TV show. Now, you can play the game! Is your Shoplifting score good enough to sneak a page from your opponent's Pokénomicon? Is your trained Jigglypolyp powerful enough to defeat a devolved Fungal Cluster? This is the world of Pokéthulhu, and now it's yours to save – or conquer!
Yikes! [Via /usr/bin/girl]
David Duchovny on nudity in film:
"The only movie where nudity is essential would be one called Before There Were Clothes."
Clever guy, that Duchovny. [Via frytopia]
Rafe Colburn sums up just why Windows XP is so worrying:
I feel a total lack of control that I've never felt with any other operating system. I think the biggest reason for this is that it's the first operating system that is really connected to the mothership pervasively.
Let me put it this way: it feels more like Microsoft owns my PC than that I own their operating system. It's really quite creepy.
I used to be quite well-disposed to the idea of Windows XP. An operating system with the relative stability of Windows NT and the multimedia/driver/hardware support of the Windows 9x family sounded like a good deal. The heavyweight hardware requirements are less that ideal, but I was quite prepared in principle to see my next PC arrive with XP installed. Trouble is, there's no way I can see of getting all those neat features without buying into Windows Product Activation, Windows Update and a system with all sorts of hooks into Microsoft .NET/Hailstorm/Passport. In short, a machine which fights me every inch of the way if I don't want to do things The Microsoft Way.

I'm still not convinced that Linux is quite the complete solution yet, but it's looking more attractive with every article I read about Windows XP...
Wednesday 11 July 2001, 23:55 BST
Psion are abandoning the PDA market. This is a real shame: there's a definite need for something between a Palm-format notepad and a full-on notebook PC, and the Psion Series 5 was as close as anyone's got to fitting the bill. I guess this is what Psion get for failing to crack the US market.
A very clear, reasoned explanation of just why the conviction of Barry George is deeply troubling. Way too much emphasis on his fitting a profile, way too little hard evidence.

In a similar vein, take a look at the tale of the fate of a fourteen year-old who uttered the dread word "Columbine" to a high school classmate in the States. Again, it's all about fitting some nebulous "profile," though in the US case the fear of lawsuits clearly pushed several responsible adults into behaving with a ridiculous degree of caution. [Barry George story via my 2p, school story via MetaFilter]
As you might have expected, someone's reverse-engineered the Windows XP product activation system. It's not as scary as it was made out to be by some early reports, but it's still not good.

Of course, one reason Microsoft claim this sort of technology is necessary is that some users behave like this school district. [Windows Product Activation story via MetaFilter]
Tuesday 10 July 2001, 21:30 BST
Nokia vibrating phones come with a little helper. [Via dutchbint]
How to give a cat a pill. (See entry for July 10)
Why don't rock musicians smile for their publicity photos? [Via Arts & Letters Daily]
Where are the intelligent SF films? (New York Times article - free registration required.)

I'd say SF fans have had a pretty reasonable run these last few years, particularly if you're thinking "speculative fiction" rather than "science fiction." Contact, Gattaca, The Matrix, Dark City, The Iron Giant, The Truman Show, Being John Malkovich, Pleasantville, 12 Monkeys and Galaxy Quest were all worthwhile efforts. True, none were pushed to the mass audience the way The Phantom Menace or Armageddon were, but so what? And that's before you count small-screen efforts like Babylon 5, Farscape, Ultraviolet and Lexx. I'd say that if anything we're in a purple patch when it comes to on-screen SF. Granted the mega-SFX blockbusters and action movies with SF trappings like The Phantom Menace, Armageddon, Starship Troopers and Evolution grab more eyeballs and are little more than empty SFX showreels, but it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm not sure SF is that much worse off than any other genre. How many intelligent horror films have you seen lately? Blade? [Via Plastic]
Embarrassment-free refunds on engagement rings. [Via pie in the sky]
Wind farms suffer from bug crust. Not as much as the bugs did... [Via Rebecca's Pocket]
Monday 9 July 2001, 23:10 BST
Nonprofitabletech: We Know More Than You.
We are the leading provider of all SOLUTIONS to the nonprofit sector. What this means is anyone's guess.
[Via /usr/bin/girl]
Spellchecker. A weblog devoted to picking up errors in spelling and grammar in weblogs. Melissa thinks it's a cool idea, whereas Michele loathes it. I find poor grammar and spelling exceptionally irritating, but I'm with Michele on this one.

(Anyway, it should be called "Spellingchecker": a "spellchecker" suggests someone whose job is to verify that a magician is casting spells correctly!) [Via a fire inside and pie in the sky]
Oh good. Someone's come up with a way to award employees Brownie points automatically as they work. [Via Techdirt]
Sunday 8 July 2001, 23:40 BST
Did you know that Japan lays approximately 30 times as much concrete as the United States (taking into account the relative land areas of the two countries) each year?

I certainly didn't, but according to Alex Kerr this single fact explains a lot about the state of modern Japan. James Fallows asks him to explain.
Soul Savers. Can you save Saint Sebastian?
If you stop enough arrows Sebastian avoids his fate. Hallelujah! You get three chances to save our guy. If you fail, well, Sebastian goes to heaven! That's the good news, martyrs can't really lose!
[Via BBspot]

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