Saturday, January 31, 2004

I wonder whether this Flash game makes any more sense if you understand Swedish? What about if you have seen the program on Swedish television? Either way, it's quite, umm, interesting, and quite colo(u)rful, and might actually be a lot of fun in Ren'n'Stimpy stylee. I must admit, I can't even really look at it without thinking of Sven Hoek ...

Friday, January 30, 2004

Book recommendation for all those who have ever pondered why:


etc. are topics on which, essentially, not only no debate is had, but, it seems, on which no debate can be had. The reason why these and so many other important topics are so contentious and, when they are debated, tend to generate more heat than light, is, at least according to author and researcher Steven Pinker, due to fundamental misunderstandings, disagreements and misconceptions about the nature, and indeed the very existence of human nature.

The book, then, is The Blank Slate (buy) and I wholeheartedly and in fact urgently recommend it to all those thoughtful people who wish to gain an insight into the topics above and why and how they relate to the deeply-held beliefs that accompany them.

What I find truly remarkable about the book is that the author spares no sacred cows, and exposes the fuzzy thinking and prejudices among both "People of Faith" (as would be expected) as well as the people who "should know better" - the people of science - for whom he reserves much of his harshest (although richly deserved) criticisms.

Read this book. It has much to teach all of us.
Welcome to Georgia; please set you watch back 100 years.

I saw this go by recently and it really grabbed my attention. It seems that the State Superindedent of School in Georgia has had an idea evolving, excuse me, changing over a long period of time. She wants to make sure that no teacher uses the word "evolution." It will be replaced with "biological changes over time." All of this might stem from the fact he last name is Cox... maybe not.

Here's a great quote from the article:

Cox repeatedly referred to evolution as a "buzzword" Thursday and said the ban was proposed, in part, to alleviate pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas where parents object to its teaching.

Clearly, Sherman did not burn enough of the South down to the ground. Or at the very least, he forgot to pave over it when he was done.

Clarence Darrow, where are you when we need you?
Dead whale + downtown street + necrotic gases = lots of fun (and a free lunch)

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I find myself in Copenhagen on business. I can now confirm via personal experience that Christiania is indeed an interesting place. Very few of my friends in the US had heard of this place, and indeed I hadn't either until a work acquaintance recently hipped me to the existence of this self-proclaimed autonomous state in the middle of the city. Does the existence of a second "free zone" (outside, of course, of Amsterdam and, indeed, the rest of the Netherlands) register in people's consciousness in the UK? How about in the Netherlands? And when I say "people", you know who you are.
A brief essay on the value of science education at an institute of higher learning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

An interesting study of Pac-Man's ghosts.
So, Mauritanian men are (or, it seems, used to be) chubby chasers, and this fat farm is theirhog heaven. Who knew?
What is your major malfunction, Spirit? Whaddya bet 90% of those troublesome "cruise files" actually actually missives entitled "MAKE.MONEY.FAST", "Mortage rates are rising fast fjlkjdsa", "Monster cocks in tight pussies", etc, etc.?
In keeping with the current American administration's obsession with secrecy the last picture sent out by the Spirit rover before malfunctioning has not been released through official channels. Fortunately it was smuggled out and you can find it here.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Is this for real, or are they just shitting us?
Not a moron.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I recently reviewed some of the Amazon reviews of the book A New Kind Of Science, some good, some bad.

I now present, in the same vein, a very good (ie entertaining) review of a verrrry bad game.
Maybe this just caught me at the right time of my life, but this is my favourite pop video of all time. Skydiving, babies and a semi-naked woman - how could you go wrong?
Talking of case mods - here's one so good you can taste it.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Art making drugs better. "Upon completing the drawing the patient starts laughing, then becomes startled by something on the floor."

Friday, January 16, 2004

If you thought geeks doing mods on their computer cases was bad you have to take a look at this yoyo. Three words come to mind. "Get", "a" and "life" (Three more words - click here instead. Original page has been pulled due to the Slashdot effect - Ken)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Have you ever wanted to go to Neverland Ranch? Well, now you can be their virtual security force.

Not your bag? Well, maybe you would enjoy reading about how the American president came to hold such power. And if that's not enough Bush for one day you can buy your very own scale model.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

If you thought the old Steve Ballmer "Developers Dance" video was bad, take a look at this. Yaaaa Baby!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

A New Kind Of Science - I read the bio/book blurb in Wired ("People magazine for techies" as a friend once called it - UK readers think Hello!) in June 2002, and thought it was kinda interesting. I later saw it in an airport bookstore and have been sorely tempted to purchase it on more than one occasion. But I haven't.

So a friend (not the same one with the insightful commentary on Wired) just asked me today whether I'd read the book, and this prompted me to pop over to Amazon and take a look at the book, and see if maybe they were selling it cheap.

Well, they're not, but I think they may have saved me $49.95 anyway. Take a look at some of the reviews. Those I especially liked were the ones entitled "maybe i am missing his genius??", "COMPUTATIONAL EQUVALENCE TRUTH", "YOU MUST ALL BE BLIND" (the ones with lots of TEXT IN ALL CAPITALS are all pretty good) and, best of all - "Charles Dickens: A Tale Too Slow".

You know, this book seems to be sooo bad that now I'm just curious to see what it's all about ...
Alright, I'll throw a terrible name in the mix as well. My company doesn't have salespeople, so "growing the business" requires a bit of social spelunking to find good opportunities and good people to contact. During one particularly uneventful period of research, I came across Wimpy Pybus. No, Wimpy isn't in quotes, which leads me to believe its his real name. And Pybus quickly reminds one of the Pubis. A wimpy pubis...sounds delightful.

I'd love to call the guy, but I am afraid that I will end the call with a loud "Hefty, Hefty, Hefty".

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I love stupid names too. Top right now? Randy Gaylord. My all-time favourite, however has to be Nimrod Ping, ex Labour Councillor for Brighton and Hove.
OK, so I understand that advertising is all about investing in the brand, but this is a bit ridiculous. What on earth were her parents thinking when they named her? And she's in Real Estate!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Along the lines of Bush in 30 Seconds, check this out. If you haven't read Adbusters, check that out too.

A new year, a new time to be angry.
Is Bush Gay?

Here's a fabulous article that investigates the rumors.

Monday, January 05, 2004

No, Bush in 30 seconds is not a new express outcall service, it's an ad campaign to edjimicate the 'mercan public about Dubya. Check 'em out.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

This story about the phenomenon of what Spike Lee calls the super-duper magical Negro struck a chord with me when I first read it in the Washington Post back in October (yes, that would be October of last year) but I didn't feel compelled to blog it until now, in the aftermath of a Christmas that netted my kids a whole bunch of Fisher-Price Little People products and accompanying videos.

The videos themselves (one comes free with each of the aforementioned FPLP toys) are mostly innocuous - a little sappy with a tendency towards preachiness, perhaps (as is often the case with videos for pre-schoolers, the charming and wonderful Oswald the Octopus notwithstanding) - with surprisingly high production values. The stop-frame animation is painstakingly done by Egmont Imagination in Denmark and each story features annoying and tedious music with vocals by warble-voiced singer Aaron Neville (incidentally, I think it would be a hoot to hear Aaron Neville interviewed by WAMU's resident spasmodic dysphonia sufferer and talk show host Diane Rehm) - I mention these features not to praise the nauseating videos, but merely to highlight the fact that things are not cheaply made.

The Little People(tm) figurines themselves have evolved over the years from ultra-simplistic and comparatively slender mostly-wooden iconic fire-hydrant shaped hatchlings, through a wider, more squat and slightly more detailed intermediate, larval phase into today's highly detailed and decidedly endomorphic lil' dumplings'o'fun. The Little People have been quite PC in their racial diversity from the outset, but what really caught my attention is that, with the fleshed-out "back stories" necessary to sustain 25-minute animated tales, the Little People can count among their number their very own super-duper magical Negro - Michael(tm).

Each of the other characters has their own "defining characteristic", for example, Sonya-Lee(tm) is an Asian chick with a penchant for animals, and Maggie(tm) is a future class president or (worse) aspring politician or future CEO who "loves to lead, and tries to do so thoughtfully" in the words of the song. Michael(tm), however, is not only "clever as can be" (so far so good) but who "likes to do things magically". Ugh. As if we all had the power to do things "by magic" but simply prefer not to.

What really grates here is that Michael(tm) is the only Little Person with supernatural powers. We're not talking about SuperFriends, here, we're talking about a kid that likes animals, a bossy kid, an artistic kid, and so on - and a kid with superhuman abilities to make all sorts of odd things happen to resolve whatever corner the plot-writer has painted them into.

So, needless to say, I can't wait for the day my kids come home from school in tears because they made friends with little Antwan or LaShawna and he/she can't stop the rain, turn back time, or raise the dead.

Friday, January 02, 2004

While The Onion apes the style of USA Today, if you want to see a parody of a small-town British newspaper, you have to check out the Framley Examiner. The classified ads are especially good.