The Null Device
Another way to string along Nigerian email scammers for laughs: baffle them with babble, as sketch comedy group Kaspar Hauser did, and see how long you can keep them trying to figure it out:
Where are you?! I have tried calling for two days! I have the Swift code for Land Bank/Kangaroo Millionaire Donor Fund (is it safe to e-mail?). I first thought there was a thumb protector on my phone but now I'm worried that I'm missing some sort of Nigerian hand mask: must I dial a country code first?
I WILL NOT BE MADE THE PONY BOY: IXNAY! If this is a scam, I want to know about it. I'm here to help Nigeria.
God Bless Me and You Both,
J. Plenary, CEO
P.S. Sorry if I seem irritated, but a horribleness has befelsterred my children's academy: Phyllis the Boy fell into a bottling machine, and I am busy, Mr. Shaish...busy with a capital Jesus.
(via Boing Boing)
As Apple announce that MacOS 10.5 ("Leopard") is going to be delayed until late in the year, ostensibly due to developers having been redirected to work on the iPhone, there is speculation that part of the delay is due to "top secret features" intended for Leopard, in addition to the features currently known.
What are these secret features? Well, there aren't any strong rumours. Though I did once read some speculation that Apple are working on a Windows API layer, perhaps similar to WINE on Linux, which would allow OSX to run Windows applications natively (albeit, presumably, in some kind of secure sandbox). Then again, an argument against this theory is that, were Apple to do this, it could encourage developers to dump OSX versions of software, and the Windows API becoming the standard on OSX.
Rock aristocrat Bryan Ferry, unapologetic Tory and fox-hunting advocate, has expressed his admiration for the Nazis' aesthetic achievements:
In an interview withWelt am Sonntag, the 61-year-old also acknowledged that he calls his studio in west London his "Führerbunker". "My God, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves," he said. "Leni Riefenstahl's movies and Albert Speer's buildings and the mass parades and the flags - just amazing. Really beautiful."Of course, when cornered about this, Ferry denied having Nazi sympathies, making all the right noises about abhorring Nazism itself and repudiating the Nazis' genocidal actions and ideologies. No, to him, it was purely about the spiffy uniforms and spectacular parades:
The singer, who is also a model for Marks and Spencer, issued a statement yesterday in which he said he was "deeply upset" by the negative publicity his remarks had caused. It added: "I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by my comments on Nazi iconography, which were solely made from an art history perspective.Which would be alright, except for a few things; as No Rock'n'Roll Fun argues, you can't separate the aesthetics of Nazism from the "bad bits", without seeming monstrously callous at best and at worst to be protesting too much. And then there's his statement that he refers to his studio as the "Führerbunker" thing, which seems to give lie to his protests of having no Nazi sympathies whatsoever.
Though just looking at the aesthetics whose praises he sang so loudly: Albert Speer's cyclopean monumentalism, the Wagnerian bombast, the masses marching and chanting in unison, all subtlety subsumed beneath the single-minded show of raw, primal force. There isn't much good that can be said about these things; at best, they're crass and kitschy, and at worst, the mindset behind them is inseparable from that which would countenance projects such as the Third Reich. One does wonder about the mindset of someone with such aesthetic sensibilities.
And here is Momus' take on the whole matter, in which he reiterates his view that the aesthetics of rock are inherently fascist:
The fact that I sense some kind of fascism in rock music (especially live rock music) is absolutely central to my lifelong avoidance of the form. And rock stars don't seem to disagree with me, just disagree that it's bad, or matters. In 1975 a coked- and occulted-up David Bowie called Hitler "the first rock star -- he staged a whole country". Keith Moon liked to dress up as a Nazi, and Bobby Gillespie is fond of throwing Hitler salutes, probably more in tribute to Iggy than Adolf. What Ferry is saying now is a tame, drawing room version of the same thing.
The next version of Adobe Flash will include attention rights management, which will enable publishers of Flash content to enforce the viewing of ads. (The version after next will use the viewer's webcam (which will be ubiquitous then) and eye-tracking software to make sure that sneaky ad-dodging freeloaders aren't looking away when an ad's playing.)
The US has the world's highest minimum drinking age, at 21*. This is a fairly recent policy; it was pushed through in the 1980s, when the federal government seized control of state drinking-age laws by threatening to withhold highway funds. Now there are growing calls for the drinking age to be lowered to 18:
Supporters of the federal minimum argue that the human brain continues developing until at least the age of 21. Alcohol expert Dr. David Hanson of the State University of New York at Potsdam argues such assertions reek of junk science. They're extrapolated from a study on lab mice, he explains, as well as from a small sample of actual humans already dependent on alcohol or drugs. Neither is enough to make broad proclamations about the entire population.
Oddly enough, high school students in much of the rest of the developed world -- where lower drinking ages and laxer enforcement reign -- do considerably better than U.S. students on standardized tests.Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, there are proposals to raise the drinking age to 21 to tackle the binge-drinking epidemic.
* This is not counting some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, where the drinking age is infinity.
In the landscape of the user-generated web, MySpace stands alone. Not because of any technical superiority or leadership; in fact, the site itself gives off a strong whiff of inelegance and half-bakedness. It stands alone, quite literally, by refusing to play nice with rival websites. MySpace is a jealous god, whose first commandment is "thou shalt have no other sites before me". Hence its "blog" functionality has no RSS feeds or permalinks, it doesn't ping or query other sites, and don't even think about APIs or mashups. MySpace may be mentioned in the same breath as "Web 2.0" (much in the way that, say, Lily Allen is "underground hip-hop"), but it is strictly Web 1.0; very Old Testament.
Up until now, MySpace's lack of interaction has been a passive one; users could embed third-party content from other sites in their pages. But now, MySpace has started blocking links to rival sites like photo-sharing site PhotoBucket.
What doesn't make sense is Fox's assumption that the MySpace stronghold (81 percent of the social networking market) can withstand a backlash from developers and users who prefer a more open environment -- even one that hosts ads and the Flash-based widgets that MySpace says are a security threat. In the end, MySpace is just one mass migration away from becoming Tripod.
The company's efforts to circle the wagons and push offending third-party widgets from its site comes at an interesting time. Its closest competitor, Facebook, has unannounced (but confirmed) plans to open its site to third-party widgets for the first time. Ultimately, the two sites could come to resemble each other, but which will users prefer?MySpace users are a stoical lot, willing to put up with having their spaces plastered with flashing, buzzing ads and to make do with late-20th-century levels of functionality in the age of the dynamic mashup; however, some are speculating that as Murdoch tightens his grip and attempts to get value from the $580 million he spent on the site, users will realise that MySpace is not their space but the online equivalent of a tightly controlled shopping mall and move on to more open sites.