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Saturday 15 December 2001, 23:25 GMT
The Onion: All Seven Deadly Sins Committed At Church Bake Sale. Damn that cheap strumpet Melissa Wyckoff.
Glass Candy. Pretty.
Bangkok is host to the world's biggest chocolate Xmas tree. Mmmmmm chocolate... [Via t-melt.com]
Friday 14 December 2001, 23:55 GMT
The Martian South Pole is looking particularly lovely at this time of year.
Michael Moorcock has written a thoughtful, wide-ranging editorial on the future role of literary science fiction. Well worth a read, even though Moorcock is dead wrong to claim that Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy will be remembered after The Lord of the Rings has been forgotten.

It's good to see Moorcock cite Frederik Pohl as a major writer: his collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth, The Space Merchants, was just one of a series of novels which foresaw the feel of the Thatcher/Reagan years way back in the 1950s. Not that Pohl's fame rests on his 50s work alone - Gateway and Man Plus were pretty amazing in their way, and he somehow find time to forge a substantial career as an editor while he was at it. They don't make 'em like that any more. [Via Haddock.org]
"One Ring to rule them all..." A South African gold mine reportedly has plans to produce replicas of the Ring of Power which lies at the centre of Tolkien's tale. All things considered, a pretty creepy present idea. [Via Found]
Thursday 13 December 2001, 23:15 GMT
US Marines in southern Afghanistan have been warned to watch out for kamikaze camels. As has been noted elsewhere, life has just turned into a Jeff Minter game... [Via Found]
The art of complaining about hotels moves into the Powerpoint age. Damn funny stuff. [Via Electrolite]
Smokehammer: Chief aim of war is now to "avenge death of George Harrison" - Blair. [Via What's New Pussycat?]
Date: 1982-06-08 22:53:31 PST. Newsgroups: net.movies. Subject: Re: Star Wars III ? -- it should be Star Wars VI.
I wish Lucas & Co. would get the thing going a little faster.
I can't really imagine waiting until 1997 to see all nine parts of the Star Wars series.
[Via yrth mirror: unblog]
Wednesday 12 December 2001, 23:45 GMT
My Alien Sister. Sacha Zimmerman had had 25 years to get used to the idea of being an only child, and then she found out that her parents were about to make a big sister of her after all that time. Now she's written a touching, thoughtful essay for PopPolitics.com about the experience.

For what it's worth - and I'm speaking from personal experience here - I think Zimmerman somewhat overstates the effect of being an only child when she opens her essay with the statement that "Being an only child is an overwhelming experience that virtually ensures dysfunction in later years." I'm very much aware of the ways in which being an only child shapes my personality, but unless the meaning of the term "dysfunction" has been diluted to the point where it's equivalent to "acts differently to someone brought up with siblings" Zimmerman's statement is way over the top. I'd cop to being "eccentric," though.
Mike Masnick is the broadband Bermuda Triangle.
Joseph Lelyveld reviews Joan Didion's Political Fictions, an account of the strange relationship between the political class and the media in the United States, for the New York Review of Books.

Although there are as many points of departure between the political systems of Britain and the United States as there are similarities, many of the trends Didion appears to be writing about - the way the parties try to shape their "story" to fit the public's mood instead of actually leading from the front on major issues, the way politicians trying hard never to let an unscripted word pass their lips when on camera - are equally prevalent over here. If anything, the problem is worse in the UK, in that the US system at least has a multiplicity of political powerbases. In the UK our elective dictatorship is far more capable of controlling the political agenda. (Though, as Harold MacMillan famously cautioned, "events, dear boy, events" can always intervene.)
Tuesday 11 December 2001, 23:30 GMT
The mighty Google have announced that their Google Groups Usenet archive now goes back twenty years. This means that Google have done more to extend the archive since February of this year than DejaNews/Deja.com managed in about five years. Perhaps that will persuade all those sceptics who complained when the Google Groups system took a few weeks to get up to speed that the Usenet archive is in good hands.
As it happens, the US media are in the process of demonstrating just how "useful" a really good Usenet archive can be. Give it a decade or so, and I look forward reading the undergraduate Usenet postings of our would-be Prime Minister. Can you imagine what fun a politics wonk like William Hague would have had in the uk.politics.* hierarchy if Usenet access had been easily available back when he was making precocious speeches to Tory party conferences? [Via MetaFilter]
"Hey, George: Go back to the E.R. before Frank sends you there! Yo, Brad: Dino could spit you out like an olive pit!" Chris Colin writes about the strange devotees of Rat Pack "cool" who are protesting against Steven Soderbergh's new film.
Conclusive evidence that automated translation systems have some way to go yet. [Via Electrolite]
Blinkenlights. A present from the Chaos Computer Club to Berlin, and to people who like to play Pong. [Via nocto]
Gorilla with Butterflies. Cute, in a large, hairy, aggressive sort of way. [Via Honeyguide]
Monday 10 December 2001, 23:10 GMT
Scientists are a step closer to explaining the mystery of the Brazil Nut Effect. [Via Electrolite]
How To Run A Rock Band.
8. You're a manager, not a babysitter
One problem with rock bands is that they think they can do anything they want to. Another problem is that, most of the time, they can. If they go to a restaurant and walk out without paying, someone will take care of it. If they want a machine gun, some idiot will give them a machine gun. That idiot should not be you. You have to teach them to take responsibility for their actions.
[Via [parallax view]]
How To Keep A Healthy Level of Insanity.
17. When the money comes out the ATM, scream "I won! I won! 3rd time this week!!!!!"
[Via House-of-boo-boo's]
Sunday 9 December 2001, 23:10 GMT
Bob Cringely has spotted a loophole in the agreement between Microsoft and the US Department of Justice. Basically, he's noticed that although one clause in the agreement requires Microsoft to divulge details of their software's APIs and protocols to competitors, the clause grants not-for-profit organisations no such access. Cringely thinks that Microsoft will use this to ensure that the Open Source rivals like Apache and Samba will be cut off at the knees. Given their history, this seems highly plausible.

The question is, if this comes to pass will Microsoft really be providing any less information than they are now? Don't the programmers who want to design tools that interoperate with Microsoft software already have to effectively reverse-engineer the APIs to ensure bug-compatibility?
W Bruce Cameron: The 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Daughter.
Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your trousers securely in place around your waist.
[Via 3 Bruces]
The World's Biggest Portrait. The best bit is that the artist "drew" the entire thing before checking it out from the air to make sure he had the proportions right. Once he did check it out, his first comment was "Oh great, it's not a Picasso." [Via As Above]
The World's Funniest Joke?
Two atoms are walking down the street.
Atom 1: I lost an electron!
Atom 2: Are you sure?
Atom 1: I'm positive!
[Via Six Layer Kate]

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