The Null Device
Amelioration is the linguistic phenomenon by which negative words or phrases lose their negative associations over time and become innocuous or even positive. Recent examples are "bad" (meaning 'good') and the likes of "shut up!"/"get outta here!" (generally translated as "you don't say?"). The phenomenon, however, is an old one: a classic example is "nice", which, until the 13th century, meant "stupid". (via MeFi)
If this is an ongoing process, one could extend it to the future; i.e., if you're writing a story set some decades from now, you could have some phrase currently found unambiguously offensive used in an innocuous way in the dialogue (i.e., in 2030, something like "go bugger yourself" will mean "really?". For extra points, make the phrase colourful and/or anatomically implausible.)
The Green Party mayoral candidate in the Spanish city of Granada plans to issue youth sex vouchers to couples under 25, allowing them to rent hotel rooms at a discount, thus preserving their fundamental human right to an active and fulfilling sex life. Young couples going at it on the beach are a major problem in Spain, where young people usually live with parents until marriage and the country's conservatively Catholic culture frowns on bringing one's partner home. The usual solution until now was increased police patrols of beaches (presumably with spotlights and water cannon).
"Happiness, well-being and autonomy are very important," he explained. "It's about emotional democracy."
(It always amuses me to see an "active sex life" spoken of as a basic human need. Even the Maslow hierarchy lists sex as a basic physiological need alongside air, water and sleep, and more important than safety needs. Sure, people are sexually obsessed (for example, we have powerful computers and communications technologies, and we use them mostly for downloading porn and talking dirty to each other; well, after making ever-more-lethal killing machines, anyway), but to say that sex is as essential as oxygen is surely an exaggeration.)
Melbourne designer type Stephen Marovitch picked up the new Norah Jones album, with the intention of playing it on his PowerBook. Unfortunately for him, the disc in question is from EMI, who are in the habit of releasing intentionally defective CDs which choke Macintoshes. So he did what anybody would do and made a copy of the CD, exactly what the "copy control" mechanisms were meant to prevent.
"Just a courtesy email to inform you, that as a result of problems experienced playing the Norah Jones CD containing your Copy Control measures on Apple OS10.2 Titanium Laptop, Windows 2000 workstation and Windows XP workstation, I have now been forced to copy your CD just to listen to it," he wrote.
"Please congratulate the genius that concocted this anti-pirating strategy."
Marovitch said he was unlikely to buy anything from the same label again.
More details on the Tunbridge Wells costumed crimefighter, whose lightning appearances have been striking terror into the hearts of louts and delinquents across the Kent town:
Mr Shaw said he would like his work contacts to know that he is, as far as he is aware, of sound mind, and he doesn't drink at lunchtime. "You're looking for a tall guy," he said, "with a brown cape, brown mask, brown boots and a big orange suit with a brown 'O' symbol on the front."
"O"? Perhaps it stands for "Outraged" or something?
"Well, it is that sort of town. There are quite a few eccentrics. There's one bloke who wanders round in a bra singing, and another who goes about in full German uniform shouting 'I'm a naughty boy'. But I can't say I've seen this caped crusader."
Remember the Iraqi secret documents proving that bolshy anti-war MP George Galloway was a traitor in the pay of Saddam? Well, it now looks like they're highly dubious. (via NWD)
A scrawl claimed to be Mr Galloway's signature on "receipts" has no similarity to his real one. The operation, revealed by the Mail on Sunday, also threw up glaring misspellings of Iraqi officers' names and mistakes in the title of Saddam's son Qusay, also said to have signed the document.
The documents were offered for sale by a former Republican Guard General. What is the world coming to if you can't trust the Iraqi Republican Guard?