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Home > Weblog w/e 29.6.2002

Saturday 29 June 2002, 23:25 BST
I bet you didn't know that Richard M Nixon was once a Calvin Klein model...


[Via Calvin Klein Ads Unofficial Archive]
New Net laws reach beyond borders. Canadian law professor Michael Geist worries that the US and EU will end up extending the boundaries of their legal system throughout the internet, leaving everyone else with little choice but to comply with laws their politicians didn't frame and can't amend.

I'm not even sure the European Union will have that much influence. Certainly an American initiative like Palladium will be hard for even the EU to ignore if it takes off, especially once media conglomerates limit online distribution of content to systems with the appropriate Palladium chipset. I know Palladium is a technological initiative rather than a piece of legislation, but is it that hard to imagine legislation requiring that a Palladium chipset be incorporated in all PC designs sold by American manufacturers, just as the V-Chip is in TV sets?

Granted, this is a rather nasty picture. Trouble is, in a world where the Content Faction is flexing its muscles and mostly winning (see Napster, AudioGalaxy, DeCSS and the CBDTPA, much of what ICANN does every day) the first couple of steps look horribly plausible. (See Ross Anderson's excellent TCPA/Palladium FAQ for much more on the implications of Palladium.) We might end up looking back on the regional coding of DVDs as the "good old days" once non-Palladium users are locked out of the entire online content business.

(As far as I know V-Chips aren't installed in TV sets sold in Europe, but that may well be because the world TV hardware market is very different to the PC model. European TV broadcast systems use a number of variations on the PAL system, whereas the US uses NTSC. This suggests that a manufacturer wishing to serve the two markets will probably have to produce different models anyway, so if they're already redesigning the set's electronics they might as well omit the V-Chip too. Beyond ensuring that the power supply can deal with the varying mains voltages a system can expect around the world, a PC's hardware is pretty much identical wherever it's sold, so that consideration doesn't apply. Also, a V-Chip has to be turned on by the end user, so even if a TV manufacturer did retain the V-Chip in European models it'd never get in the way as long as it wasn't activated. I think we can safely bet that someone who buys a PC with a Palladium-ready operating system will not get a choice as to whether Palladium is activated.)

[Michael Geist article via Politech]
Indie writer/director and renowned script doctor John Sayles talks to CHUD about raising finance, his preference for character-driven stories and the importance of being true to the historical context of your story.
Do you have total Philip K Dick recall?
You scored 7 out of a possible 10

Impostor! Oh sure, you look the part of a PKD expert and, like the androids in Blade Runner, can fool just about anyone that you are who you say you are. But we know better. Those few tell-tale chinks in your disguise expose you as a renegade robot, or a KGB spy. We just haven't decided which one yet.
[Via Boing Boing]
Thursday 27 June 2002, 23:35 BST
www.apple-history.com: it does exactly what it says on the tin. A very nice site, with a vast array of facts and figures and an uncluttered layout.

[Via Boing Boing]
Now that the extension of the RIP Act's reach has been shelved, you might be wondering just what information can your ISP divulge about your online activities. The excellent Stand has produced a useful guide entitled How ISP surveillance currently works, Pt 1 (or: now the RIP order's gone, what are we left with?)
John Shirley gives Minority Report a distinctly positive review. Sounds promising - has Spielberg got his mojo back?

(If so, is it too late to persuade George Lucas to get his pal Steve to direct Episode 3? Though come to think of it, they might need to arrange for Philip K Dick to write the script. Oh well...)

[Via Amygdala]
30 Days to a More Accessible Weblog. Excellent advice, with plenty of examples and copious links to reference material explaining how to make your weblog readable by as many people as possible.

Some of the tips are simple commonsense (such as making sure that there's sufficient contrast between foreground and background colours, or presenting your main content first), but others, such as the use of the <link> tag to provide additional navigation options for users viewing your site with a text-only browser, hadn't occurred to me. They're nearly all worth implementing. Once Day 30 comes round I'll certainly be taking a close look at the impending redesign of Sore Eyes and tweaking a few elements.

[Via MetaFilter]
Wednesday 26 June 2002, 23:00 BST
In the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals, can an influx of Corporate Ethics Officers bolster confidence in shareholder capitalism? Duff McDonald is not persuaded: "Ethics is like spelling. If you don't get it by the sixth grade, it's pretty difficult to teach."

[Via Techdirt]
A Guide to Unusual Maps on the Web. A very useful site, with links to all sorts of highly unconventional maps. (Unfortunately a fair number of the links are broken due to a reorganisation of the Concierge.com/travel.epicurious.com web site. However, there's still plenty of worthwhile material.)

[Via Sashinka]
"Welcome To Hampshire Where Partnership Works." Rod Liddle rails at the most stupid signs in Britain.
VerisignOff. Take your domain back from the incompetent (not to say borderline dishonest) registrars at Verisign/Network Solutions.

This site could well turn out to be a terrific resource. I wonder how long it'll take for Verisign to take legal action to try to take the site down. (Remember, they don't need to win a case before a judge, or even to have a strong case - they just need to throw enough lawyers at the site's owners to exhaust their financial resources and tie up their time responding to lawsuits.)

[Via Boing Boing]
Tuesday 25 June 2002, 23:00 BST
The teaser poster for The Two Towers is now available for download. I'm not sure that depicting the two towers as being that close together is strictly accurate, but even so it makes for a very nice image. The latest teaser looks pretty damn fine too.
R Kelly, who has been accused of being caught on film having sexual relations with a minor has released a song criticising his accusers. Why didn't Gary Glitter think of that?

[Via the null device]
Having announced that they'll be adding all sorts of Digital Rights Management features to future versions of Windows, a senior Microsoft spokesperson has suggested that in order to convince potential users of the system's integrity the company will publish the source code.

Sounds promising, but I can't help wondering whether that's "publish" as in "allow you to view the source code provided that you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and agree to pay Microsoft royalties if you produce any software using this technology. And don't even think about letting our code within a mile of a PC running any Open Source software."

[Via Techdirt]
But I Had Three!!! As Davezilla puts it: "If my family had a crest, I am certain the words inscribed on it would be 'Faux Pas.'"
Monday 24 June 2002, 23:15 BST
Surrey with the Syringe on Top. Kevin Guilfoile reveals the awful truth about steroid abuse on Broadway:
Arthur Miller, who claims he was clean when he debuted on Broadway in 1947, says the pressure to produce profitable shows that are also critically acclaimed has turned more and more writers to dietary supplements and strength-enhancing drugs. ‘These days, a playwright could rely on just the talent God gave him,’ Miller says, injecting his voice with sarcasm the way August Wilson allegedly injects his thighs with Anabolex. ‘If all he wants is a Tony.’

Miller is quick to point out that it wasn’t always this way, and when the conversation turns to his early days, he becomes nostalgic. ‘You should have seen me when I was writing Death of a Salesman. I had pecs the size of Iroquois saddlebags and my glutes were so rock-hard I could have sat on Joe McCarthy’s head and popped it like a rotten beet.’ He smiles. ‘Now that would have been an ‘un-American activity’ – crushing a U.S. Senator’s melon with my ass.’
Microsoft have announced plans to build enhanced security measures into future versions of Windows. Your computer will be perfectly "secure" - provided that your definition of the word "secure" means "wide open to monitoring and control by the film and music industries."

I wonder what the chances are that the specifications and protocols used by the new hardware AMD and Intel are promising to design for Microsoft will be fully and freely available, so that Linux users can still install their chosen operating system on PCs featuring the new hardware?
Doonesburied. Jesse Walker thinks Gary Trudeau's long-running comic strip is as tired as the Boomer liberalism it exemplifies.

He has a point, but perhaps not a particularly surprising one. As Doonesbury has been around for thirty years now it's to be expected that Trudeau has started paying at least as much attention to the characters' histories and the soap-opera elements of the story as to politics. That doesn't suddenly make it a bad comic strip, just one that's switched focus. In Doonesbury the characters age in something resembling real time, so as they've settled down/married/changed jobs and accumulated years of history the focus of the strip is bound to change. And yes (to address Walker's wider point), this evolution does echo that of the Boomer generation. (Or any other generation, for that matter.)

How many comic strips really do retain their edge after 30 years? Good as Aaron McGruder's Boondocks is right now, will Huey still be fighting the power in 2025? And if he is, will he still be as funny? I'm not saying Boondocks is going to turn into a cartoon version of The Cosby Show, but I very much doubt that Riley will still be winding up Huey by mentioning yet another demeaning "black" movie in the strip's third decade.

[Via MISCmedia]
Sunday 23 June 2002, 21:00 BST
Is Yoda the true villain of the Star Wars saga? Life would be much more interesting if George Lucas would put the denizens of rec.arts.sf.written in charge. See, for example, the sub-thread starting with this posting from Ian Braidwood. (Actually, the entire thread is worth a read.)
Glen McDonald takes a break from writing about his favourite music to explain why he's enjoying the World Cup so much.
At about 9:15am, with less than three minutes left on the clock, you would have seen the first crack. Christian Panucci bobbled a clearance for once bounce too many, and Seol Ki Hyeon knocked it past a surprised Buffon. Suddenly it was 1-1, the Italians looked concerned, and 38,576 people knew they could get anything they wanted by wanting it passionately enough. The Italians retrieved the ball, zipped down the field, and Damiano Tommasi arched a textbook cross over a dazed defense into the stride of Christian Vieri.

Christian Vieri is a very famous soccer player. In 1999 his services were purchased from the Italian club Lazio by the giant Inter Milan for what was then a world-record fee of whatever forty-eight and a half million dollars comes to in Italian money. He had five goals in the 1998 World Cup, and four more in this one. If you are playing Italy, and it's tied, and there are only seconds left, you very, very, very much do not want anybody to loft a perfect assist over your misplaced defenders to where Christian Vieri is standing with nothing between him and your goal but about ten feet of clear Korean air. It is very difficult to think of anything you could want less. Your defender is stranded, your goalie will never get there. There is absolutely nothing to do but pray.

And 38,576 people prayed, and Christian Vieri kicked the ball to one of them.
Blockbuster Video requests: Please Rewind Your DVD. I was sure this must be an urban legend, but if so it doesn't appear to be one Snopes has spotted yet.

[Via Boing Boing]
Over at A Small Victory, Michele has announced that she's going to be taking part in this year's Blogathon.

If you've ever enjoyed her stories about Natalie and DJ, cheered her rants about Dubya and friends, or been touched by her reflections on motherhood and the aftermath of September 11th, I urge you to consider sponsoring her, or at least reading her weblog on July 27th. Quite apart from the merits of her chosen charity, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, just consider how entertaining it'll be when Michele carries on posting while addled by lack of sleep in that 23rd hour...

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