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Saturday 1 September 2001, 23:40 BST
Have you ever wanted a 50lb PDA made out of butter? Today's your lucky day. [Via Windowseat Weblog]
Tanya Headon is back, and she still hates music:
Curiously enough no coma patient has ever been woken by "Girlfriend In A Coma", perhaps because lying cold and unresponsive is the usual female reaction to a Smiths' fan's sexual technique and so many a Mozophile has failed to notice his partner's plight in the first place. Similarly "Karmacoma" by Massive Attack has caused more comas than it has cured with its abstract vibes that sound like somebody filling a didgeridoo with treacle. The idea that karma could send you into a coma is a foolish one anyhow as surely Tricky has long since exhausted his and yet continues to make rubbish albums. However his grasp of medicine is poor at the best of times: "I am paranoid and horrible when I smoke dope! It must be a rare allergy!".
New Scientist has a fascinating report on an octopus with a talent for mimicry. [Via Honeyguide]
What Is A Geek? Mark Harlan remembers the day he took the Nerd Test and discovered the awful truth about himself:
I was thrown into a massive depression that not even an excessive amount of business partner antagonization could cure. How could I be more nerdy than the unwashed mouth breathers I knew around the office? Why did I get penalized just because I can remember things like Avogadro's number off the top of my head? I mean, I had a life. A real life. I had been to Moscow without the proper tourist visa, I had flown the Goodyear blimp, I swam from Alcatraz, I took seven years to get a four year college degree, why I had even had sex once. And what about those people around the office? their skin was so translucent from CRT atrophy that it was like walking around with an army of "visible men" whenever we went out to lunch.
[Via BBspot]
OldVersion.com is compiling an archive of older versions of programs which have been ruined by bloat and creeping featurism.

This is exactly the sort of deviant, backward-looking behaviour that Microsoft want to stamp out. If .NET becomes widely used, we won't have any choice but to upgrade to the latest, greatest version at Microsoft's whim. [Via MetaFilter]
The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. A terrific resource. [Via plasticbag.org]
Friday 31 August 2001, 22:40 BST
Davezilla paints a delightful picture of Clarence the trucker.
Neat gadgetry for your car. I'm sure this'll show up in an Innovations catalogue within months. [Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
Turn your AOL CDs into a boomerang. Trouble is, most of us want rid of the damn things, and this'll just bring them right on back. [Via User Friendly Link of the Day]
Thursday 30 August 2001, 23:20 BST
Those Daleks aren't so tough! [Via Found]
Damn funny MSN search. [Via blogjam]
My Date With Destiny. The story of the first time Kevin Smith kissed his wife. [Via Orbyn.com]
Thanks, Dubya! It turns out that even if Star Wars succeeds in stopping warheads from falling on America's cities, there's yet another potential drawback for us Europeans. Not only are we likely to end up making ourselves prime targets by providing sites for the advance radar systems used to detech launches, but the wreckage of the missiles is likely to fall on countries between the "rogue state" and the US - in other words, us! [Via Guardian Weblog]
Rapatronic photographs. Astonishing high-speed pictures of nuclear weapons in action. It reminds me of an Isaac Asimov short story, Hell Fire, in which a high speed photo reveals an unexpected image in the mushroom cloud. [Via lgf]
Wednesday 29 August 2001, 22:50 BST
Top 11 Reasons You Haven't Patched IIS Yet.
10. Waiting to stop laughing from the Ballmer video.
<www.wemadeoutinatreeandthisoldguysatandwatchedus.com>. Now that's what I call a URL! [Via 3 Bruces]
Coming to a cinema near you: Boo.com: The Movie. If I were an investor who lost his shirt investing in the company, I'd be pretty unhappy at the prospect that the firm's founders might coin it selling the movie rights to the story of how they lost my money. [Via MetaFilter]
The Forgetting. Pam Rosenthal reviews what sounds like a fascinating study of the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
I saw Tim Burton's re-imagined version of Planet of the Apes this evening. I'd say it was a pretty decent effort at following up a classic, with terrific costumes and makeup work, strong acting from Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan and Helena Bonham-Carter, and just enough Burtonesque touches to make this more than a by-the-numbers remake. Admittedly Estella Warren was horrible as Mark Wahlberg's human love interest, and Wahlberg himself was competent rather than commanding, but it was certainly worth a look.

Then they decided they just had to try to match the impact of the original's twist ending and everything went to hell. I know they couldn't repeat the original ending, but if that was the best alternative they could come up with perhaps they shouldn't have bothered.
Tuesday 28 August 2001, 23:50 BST
Prairie Dog martial arts. [Via The View From Here]
Charles C Mann takes a sceptical look at some commonplace myths about the power of the internet to defeat censorship and resist control.

One element I think Mann could have made more of is the tendency for consumer broadband internet access, where it's available at all, to be restricted in all sorts of ways that make it less useful than it could be. If you're not allowed to run servers on your PC then a broadband service is a lot less useful, and a lot easier for your ISP to control.

Granted, there are also bandwidth issues for the ISPs that can lead them to try to restrict your ability to serve the world's teenage boys with all the nude Britney Spears MPEGs they could possible desire but that's a matter best dealt with by agreeing up front that users can have X MB of bandwidth per day for their basic fee and further bandwidth on payment of a supplementary fee. [Via the null device]
You know, a film doesn't need to be good to be good. Consider this excerpt from Andrew O'Hehir's review of John Carpenter's latest:
Mind you, "Ghosts of Mars" is not a good movie by any reasonable standard; it's not one of Carpenter's half-accidental triumphs, like the original "Halloween" or "Escape From New York" or his memorable 1982 remake of "The Thing." It's not even "They Live" -- the finest Marxist science-fiction film ever to feature a professional wrestler -- in which Rowdy Roddy Piper discovers that the yuppie revolution of the '80s is actually an alien invasion (still an unrefuted hypothesis as far as I'm concerned).

But, hey, this is still a ghost story set on Mars. It mixes the claustrophobic atmosphere of "Alien" with the joie de vivre of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and stirs the brew into an old-fashioned frontier western in which the posse of good guys (or at least humans) has to shoot its way out of town not once but twice. It's got severed heads on pikes. It's got a bunch of bloodthirsty barbarians with kinky piercings, pointed teeth and face paint who look like the band members kicked out by Marilyn Manson for being too old and weird. It's got Pam Grier as a lesbian Martian cop. It's got the line, "What happens if we blow up the nuclear power plant? There'd be a big explosion, right?" So there's really nothing to complain about.
Damn straight!
The Guardian had a couple of really good articles today: George Monbiot ponders the ramifications of the Private Finance Initiative for freedom of information, and Jonathan Sale passes on the rather bizarre advice the Special Operations Executive handed out to prospective spies:
Six decades ago the SOE courses were taught in "finishing schools" grouped around Beaulieu in Hampshire. Here brave chaps took down notes on derailing trains (i) with high explosive and (ii) without high explosive. They learned how to survive in a room into which an armed enemy is about to burst: stand on a piano, which should surprise the intruders.
Best Bar (None).
Failure to be bar-literate can totally concorde your social life, and in the essential professions, if you drop a bar gaffe you might as well lop yourself chunky through your waste disposal.
Chris Morris has produced the definitive London Bar Guide. [Via MetaFilter]
Monday 27 August 2001, 22:30 BST
Elizabeth from Big Brother 2 reveals that the televised version of the show was edited to highlight particular aspects of each housemate's personality and tell a neat little story. (Well duh!)

Still, at least the show wasn't a total loss:
Let's look at the good things about reality TV. Number one: apparently it's educational. In a recent Mori poll, more than 60% of children questioned said they had learnt more social skills from Big Brother than from home, school or traditional role models. Interesting, they'll be running around screaming "oh evil demons" at 2am, followed by "oh my God".
[Via linkmachinego]
Gorgeous Hubble image of a planetary nebula forming. You know, one day NASA are going to send us all us non-US types a bill for all the bandwidth we've soaked up viewing their images. Then we'll all be sorry... [Via lgf]
Maureen Freely reports that 'thresholders' (18-24 year-olds) are finding life outside the family home tougher than they'll admit.

The one caveat I'd raise is that Freely focuses too much on the situation facing young people who leave home to go to university and are expected to have brilliant careers. It's remarkable that despite the introduction of student loans and tuition fees so many students still feel that they have to study away from home, and I can't help wondering whether it's really sensible for so many of them to persevere in living outside the family home when they lack the means to support themselves. However, that shouldn't detract from the larger point raised in the article, which is that young people nowadays who launch themselves into the world come crashing down to earth hard because the networks of friends they have can't be relied upon and the concept of treating younger employees differently as they mature and grow used to the pace and pressures of the modern workplace has gone by the board in most large organisations.

I can't help but think that another aspect of this is that so many people have unrealistic expectations of their social lives and their careers. Where does it say that you'll know what you're going to do with your life and who you're going to be with by the time you're 21, or 25, or even 30 or 35?
The Pitch Drop Experiment. Definitely not one for the impatient - it's been running since 1927. I take it that having a RealPlayer stream set up to relay live footage is someone's idea of a joke. [Via Schism Matrix]
Overheard by Davezilla:
"No Steve can’t make the reunion. No. No Mom. He’s not coming. He burned his face on a tire last night."
For more of this sort of thing, you might want to wander over to In Passing..., a weblog dedicated to collecting this sort of remark.
Scary!
Why don't we sneeze when we're asleep? The New Scientist has the answer... [Via Nick Jordan]
Stephen Jay Gould Speaks Out Against Science Paparazzi.
Cory Doctorow on Metacrap. Or, Why XML Won't Save the Web. [Via Kottke]
Norman Solomon says the fight for a non-corporate web is lost. I'm not so sure: if the future of online commerce is AOL-style closed communities, doesn't that leaves the rest of the web (and, equally importantly, the rest of the internet) for more worthwhile purposes? It may well be smaller and quieter, but it'll also be a hell of a lot more useful. [Via lgf]
Farscape returned to BBC2 tonight with a kick-ass start to the third season. I'm slightly disappointed to find that Aeryn's death at the end of season 2 was less permanent than it seemed at the time, and that Crichton recoved from the plight he was in at season's end halfway through the episode, but I suppose that few shows can afford to kill one of the show's leading pair and debilitate the other for too long. Still, I'm looking forward to another fun ride.
Sunday 26 August 2001, 21:55 BST
Hunter S. Thompson To Write New "Babylon 5" Telemovie. [Via uk.media.tv.sf.babylon5]
Ant City. Take one (1) giant and one (1) magnifying glass... [Via 3 Bruces]
MetaMetaFilter. [Via, inevitably, MetaFilter]
Leap of Faith.
A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sun roof during an incident best described as "a mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye witnesses.
I don't care that it's an urban legend, it's still damn funny. (Er, so to speak.) [Via Off On A Tangent]
Jon Carroll bids farewell to Jesse Helms.

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