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Saturday 2 February 2002, 23:55 GMT
I've just got back in from the cinema after (finally!) seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, so I don't have time to write a proper entry this evening.

I'll come back to this topic tomorrow, but my first reaction is that Peter Jackson, his cast and his production team have done about as good a job of making the first part of Tolkien's epic accessible to a general audience while remaining true to the spirit of the original as you could reasonably hope for. Although I was aware at some level that it was a long film, I don't begrudge a single minute of the three hour running time.
Friday 1 February 2002, 22:50 GMT
Get Your Enr On. Class. [Via Off On A Tangent]
Lunch is for Wimpys. A look at how Wimpy fast food restaurants are surviving, and perhaps even beginning to prosper, despite the presence of McDonalds, KFC and Burger King "restaurants" in city centres. There's a Wimpy in Newcastle, just round the corner from the office where I work, and it fits the formula described in the article perfectly: well away from the major retail outlets, and catering mostly to a middle-aged or elderly customer base.

I have to wonder about the soundness of this strategy in the long term. I suspect a lot of the regulars in Wimpy restaurants today are people who got the habit back in the 60s and 70s, before the big American fast food chains spread to every medium-sized town in the UK. I'm not sure that a generation that can't remember the days before a McDonalds on every high street will be lured to Wimpy by table service alone. You can't overstate the importance of getting 'em hooked young. [Via linkmachinego]
Are teamworking skills really such a big deal?
Twisted books for children. Deeply, deeply offensive, and utterly hilarious. My favourites: [Via plasticbag.org]
Thursday 31 January 2002, 22:50 GMT
Now this is what I call a covering letter for a résumé. Go Erin!
Nottingham City Council has declared war on poor spelling and misuse of the apostrophe. If they'd just extend the forfeit principle to cover the use of English on commercial signs and advertisements they could probably reduce the Council Tax by about 20%. [Via Kate]
Dear Sony,
I am writing this letter of complaint in regards to a recent game I saw at a local Walmart, Linux. I recently saw the picture of the adorable penguin on the cover, and couldn't resist buying the game for my children Corey, 3, and Chelsea, 9.
I never paid much attention to the various art projects surrounding the Millennium Dome, since I had no plans to wander down to London to see the Dome. Consequently, it was only today that I discovered the Quantum Cloud, an extraordinary sculpture by Antony Gormley which was adjacent to the Dome site. I haven't been able to find out whether the Quantum Cloud is still on site: if it is, I'll have to see it for myself next time I'm in London. In the meantime, I'll have to make do with this photograph. [Via MetaFilter]
Wednesday 30 January 2002, 23:15 GMT
Llamasoft is back. I feel all nostalgic. [Via Found]
Virus Alert: beware the "Don't Fucking Open Me!" Virus.
Tuesday 29 January 2002, 23:30 GMT
Can you Stare Down Sally? I couldn't. [Via Rogi]
Who Was the Best Bond Babe? I'd take Pussy Galore over Honey Rider any day. [Via Off On A Tangent]
Enron: The Musical.
(To the tune of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend")
A good cause is grand
And can be an inspiration
But donors are a pol’s best friend.
Giving the poor a hand
Won’t help your aspiration
To win the next election
Or get a leadership selection.
Bravo! Encore!
Did You See: Futurama? Another show doomed by Channel 4's inability to schedule imported shows properly.
Finally, a quick round of applause for the BBC for showing the final four episodes of the current season of Farscape at the rate of two episodes per week (and before the US, at that). It's been a very tense few episodes. Waiting a week between episodes would have been very hard on my nerves.

If Buffy is the best fantasy/horror show on TV (which it is - not to mention the best-written show on TV full stop), Farscape is by some margin the best SF show since Babylon 5. Farscape is a lot more playful than Babylon 5 ever was, but it's by no means a jokey show. This season, like the two before it, has mixed comedy with high drama with serious quantities of angst to great effect. The writers have stayed one step ahead of the audience, and where they do employ SF cliches they've so far managed to add a unique twist to keep us interested. They're assisted in selling this unique mix by a cast that's proved adept at switching from out and out silliness (most obviously in this season's Revenging Angel, a gem of an episode in the style of a Chuck Jones cartoon) to serious, high-stakes drama to major interpersonal angst. Even if you think Farscape is just a somewhat pulpy space opera, you have to admit that at the very least it's an extremely good pulpy space opera.

It only remains to be seen whether the season finale will turn out to be a pause for reflection in the style of Restless, the Buffy season 4 finale, or an opportunity to introduce some new plot development that'll turn the Farscape universe on its head for season 4. Regardless, it's been a hell of a ride and I'll be there for more just as soon as they get round to scheduling it.
Monday 28 January 2002, 23:00 GMT
Rejected iMac designs. I rather like the Teletubby design. [Via Boing Boing]
Eva Herzigova Jewel Heist. An instant classic. [Via Ben Hammersley.Com]
Reading a thread about obituaries of public figures on MetaFilter yesterday, I was reminded of my favourite piece of journalistic invective: Hunter S Thompson's magnificent tirade against Richard Nixon.

We can but hope that when Mrs Thatcher's time comes the British press will find someone capable of rising to the occasion. Or at the very least, that Elvis Costello will still be around to perform Tramp The Dirt Down one last time.
Sunday 27 January 2002, 23:00 GMT
AlterSlash. A handy summary of the day's Slashdot threads for your convenience. [Via MetaFilter]
An interview with Miranda Rivers, who was responsible for casting The Lord of the Rings.
Casting this movie must have consumed your life.
By the end, we were just these casting machines. It also became a gag for us. We had no personal lives anymore. We would walk down the street, and people were not people, they were types: I'd be going, 'Hobbit!' 'Elf!' 'Uruk-hai!' 'Rohan!' I got a lot of elves off the street.
[Via rec.arts.sf.written]
Occidentalism. A thoughtful, insightful article for the New York Review of Books by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit which puts into perspective the clash of ideas which led to the Current Situation.
What happens when someone steals your laptop? If it's a Mac and you're a dab hand with AppleScript, quite a bit. A fascinating look at how many ways you can booby trap a PC to reveal the thieves' details.

This article gave rise to two thoughts:
  • What's the best way to replicate this on a PC? (I'm still thinking about that one. It's a shame Microsoft didn't build a scripting language into Windows from the start.)
  • If the person who ends up with a stolen PC is an innocent third party who thinks they just got a good deal on a second-hand PC and they use it to store their personal files, what's your liability if you wipe their important personal files as well as your own?
Still, it's a fascinating story. [Via Found]

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