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Home > Weblog w/e 23.2.2002

Saturday 23 February 2002, 22:05 GMT
"This is the most disturbing, fucked up, wrong thing I've ever seen!" Exploitation Now #234: not work-safe, but very, very funny.
Chuck Jones, quite possibly the greatest animator of the 20th century, RIP. [Link to news report via Blogatelle, link to official site via Grayblog]
Zoo Practices Polar Bear Breakout. Brings a whole new meaning to the term "feeding time." [Via off the proverbial heezy]
Astonishing before-and-after image of the WTC site, taken by satellite. No words whatsoever required. [Via lgf]
David Allsopp tells it like it is about the schedulers for Channel 4. See footnote 1 for the gory details. [Via rec.arts.sf.written]
Alison got a more entertaining bus ride than she'd bargained for the other day. Call me a grinch, but a bus driver like that would drive me nuts. Just drive and let me read my book, OK?
Thursday 21 February 2002, 22:25 GMT
Broadband is dead. David Walker writes about what real-world users want from broadband. [Via Tomalak's Realm]
The Neuroscience Art Gallery is fascinating. My favourite exhibit is the gallery of cat paintings by Louis Wain. As schizophrenia manifested itself late in his life, Wain's work took a genuinely startling, creepy turn. [Via Jejune.net]
The Teen Log Generator. Weblogging may never be the same again... [Via MetaFilter]
Just months before Microsoft are due to roll out the first elements of their .NET strategy, even Microsoft's bosses are reportedly being quite candid about the fact that that they're not quite sure what .NET's really supposed to do or how they're going to make it pay.

Either this is a campaign to drive down expectations in the hopes that we'll all be impressed when .NET turns out to do something moderately useful, or else we're in for a big, splashy, hugely embarrassing repetition of Microsoft's patented "we'll get it right by Version 3.0" strategy.
John Thaw RIP. I know he played Inspector Morse for fifteen years, but for me he'll always be Detective Inspector Jack Regan.
Wednesday 20 February 2002, 23:05 GMT
Literary SF Publishers Announce "International Slushpile Bonfire Day."
Although the editors and publishers in other countries were sympathetic to the idea, it is currently unknown whether or not they will participate. At least one Australian editor expressed support for the bonfire, saying "Australia has only six million people, and between the four science fiction magazines in the country, we've received submissions from at least four million. Either we have a lot of razorback hunters and crocodile skinners with plenty of free time in the evening who will suddenly buy subscriptions so they can see their stories in print, or we're going to have a bonfire of our own in our future."
Not All Asian E-Mail Is Spam according to Michelle Delio, writing for Wired News. There's some concern that as more and more mail server administrators bar entire Asian countries rather than waste valuable server resources on processing the never-ending stream of unsolicited commercial email from the .tw or .cn top-level domains, the result will be that a new iron curtain will divide the internet.

The question is, what else can you do when many Chinese ISPs simply refuse to act against customers who are either spammers themselves or else running open mail servers? It's all very well saying that Asians have a different attitude to spam, but if they want to play with internet users who don't share that attitude it seems to me that they'll just have to adapt. Or get Hotmail accounts...
You've just returned home from hospital after exploratory surgery. You've been diagnosed as suffering from cancer, and you're facing months of painful treatment which might, just might add a few months to your suddenly diminished lifespan. Then you find out that your mobile phone company have cancelled your contract and set debt collectors to hound you for the balance outstanding plus a cancellation charge. You'd most likely assume there had been some silly mistake.

If you're in Australia, and you're a customer of Telstra, you'd be wrong. Apparently, it's their policy to cancel contracts as soon as they find out the customer is seriously ill, on the grounds that it's easier to collect money from someone who's alive but on their way out rather than extract the cash from their estate.

I'm stunned! [Via Boing Boing]
The Future of Infantry? A rather good report on the way that the use of off-the-shelf technology is making it practical to equip the infantry with all manner of wearable tech. One line in the article did bring me up short: "Battery technology is one area where the designers anticipate that strides will be made in the next few years." I've been reading that line in reviews of laptops and portable computing devices for at least fifteen years now, and somehow laptops still aren't useable for a reasonable length of time.

Yes, I know that laptops and top-of-the-line PDAs today can do a lot more than their ancestors from 1990. But if laptops still shut down after a few hours then how much more useful are they really? Give me improved battery life over a colour display and a built-in GPS every time. [Via Red Rock Eater]
Tuesday 19 February 2002, 23:00 GMT
Make Homer Simpson a Figure Skating Judge. Who else could put the "Olympic movement" in its place? [Via PopPolitics]
Immune to the Evidence. Regardless of the good intentions behind the campaign to discredit the MMR vaccine, Dr Michael Fitzpatrick (who happens to be the father of an autistic son) isn't impressed.
I noted last week that fossilised dinosaur vomit had been discovered. Raphael Carter quite correctly points out that it was actually ichthyosaur vomit. The thing is, ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles, not dinosaurs. This may seem like a trivial point, but as Carter says it's worrying that so many reputable news sources made the same mistake. (OK, I didn't spot it - but then I'm not a journalist being paid to write about this stuff.)

Incidentally, credit is due to the BBC for correcting their story. It'd be interesting to know whether the correction was due to emails from schoolkids as Carter suggests.
For all the men who like to send blonde jokes, it's payback time.
5. What is the difference between men and government bonds?
The bonds eventually will mature.
[Via feeling listless]
Monday 18 February 2002, 22:45 GMT
Oops! While their political masters gingerly enter into talks with Spain about the future of Gibraltar, a contingent of 20 Royal Marines accidentally invaded Spain today.

The camcorder footage of the marines apologetically waving goodbye to the locals as they jumped back into their boat was a one of the funniest things I've seen in a news bulletin all year!
Danger: World Chocolate Shortage Looms. The world seems a darker, gloomier place tonight... [Via MISCmedia]
While I'm on the subject, Michele's got a craving for a Chocolate Jesus.
Annelizabeth shares the story of Woody the teabag-hating, nicotine-addicted guide dog.
Sunday 17 February 2002, 23:20 GMT
The A to Z of Britney.
J is for Justin Timberlake from the boy band *Nsync, who is Britney's sweetheart. They page, they text and, when she calls him, she often says she'd like to wriggle down the telephone wire, squirm out through the receiver, and clamber inside his face. Even so, Britney has confessed that Brad Pitt is 'like, the ultimate', and she once challenged Ben Affleck to a game of strip poker. Queues of contenders wait to fill any vacancy: on the internet, there's an oversubscribed site for Future Husbands of Britney Spears.
Words like a song. Michele waxes eloquent on those three oh so important little words.
Brazil vs Argentina. LOL! [Via brainsluice]
Microsoft would like us all to stop using the word "begin" in emails. And these are the people who would like us to trust them more? [Via Pigs & Fishes]
The Transatlantic Rift Is Getting Serious, according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post.

A particularly uncomfortable situation for Tony Blair, who is liable to find himself in the same position Harold Wilson was in the late 60s with respect to Vietnam. Trouble is, Blair is a lot further removed from the anti-war wing of his party than Wilson was, and this isn't the sort of problem that's amenable to spin-doctoring. [Via The Sideshow]
Further to my comments on Tuesday about Opera 6, I've come across an issue that makes the program all but unusable at some sites. For some bizarre reason, some bitmap images are displayed rotated through 180. The effect is almost totally random: on one site I visit regularly, only some of the images in the navigation menu are affected, and at some of the cartoon sites I visit one day's cartoon will be displayed inverted by the next day's will be the right way up.

This is a deeply, deeply irritating bug. I'm seriously considering reverting to Opera 5.12 until a fix has been found.

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