The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'stupidity'

2013/9/5

As Australia enters the final 48 hours before its election, a ban on electoral advertising has now come into force across the country. And, by coincidence, the Tories (who look almost certain to form the next government) have released their full policies and costings, and it's a doozy. Out goes renewable energy funding.. On the infrastructure front, there's a distinct back-to-the-1950s theme again, with the government scrapping public-transport programmes and replacing them with a road-building spree not seen since Grandpa got his first Holden. (It's a good thing that oil will always be cheap and global warming is nothing more than a lie spread by a conspiratorial elite of jealous inner-city leftists who can't afford 4WDs because they're losers, because otherwise we'd all be screwed.) Science and education funding are being slashed as well, with the Australian Research Council budget being cut by at least $103 million, and Abbott seems to have taken a leaf out of the Canadian government's book, introducing plans to control research funding on political grounds, because of, you know, we can't have politically-correct Marxist climatologists pushing un-Australian black-armband theories such as “global warming”. Oh, and if that wasn't good enough, a proposal for an opt-out internet censorship regime (i.e., “Stop the Bytes”) have somehow made it into the proposals, meaning that Australia's nobbled 20th-century broadband will now be even more useless. (The government-in-waiting soon started claiming that that announcement was a mistake, without elaborating on this.)

This, truly, is the bouquet of shit that just keeps giving.

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2013/9/2

Barry Jones (one of the more thoughtful and forward-looking figures from the past three or so decades of politics in Australia) writes about the decline of rationality in Australian political discourse, and its replacement by knee-jerk populism and a wilful, even proud, ignorance and short-sightedness:

Party spin-doctors, on both sides of politics, work on the assumption that by this stage in the election cycle about 80% of voters have already decided how they will vote, and that short of some major event (cabinet ministers charged with felony, perhaps) nothing that is said or done in the campaign will change that. The 20% who are uncommitted, profiling suggests, are neither interested nor involved in the issues, do not much care about the outcome, are largely voting because they are obliged to do it, and will make up their minds on the day – perhaps as they stand in line waiting to receive their ballots.
Geoff Kitney wrote an important article for the Australian Financial Review – Vote for Abbott, and vote against politics – describing Abbott as the anti-politics politician, who puts a heavy emphasis on appealing to those (many?) reluctant voters who say: “I can’t stand politics, and don’t even pretend to understand it”. This does not just discourage debate on complex issues, it kills it. There may be even a bonus for non-involvement, to be told: “don’t feel badly about knowing so little – celebrate it”.
Despite Australia’s high formal levels of literacy, politicians are increasingly dedicated to delivering three word slogans (“stop the boats!”) – now degenerating even more to the use of one word, repeated three times (“Cut! Cut! Cut!” or “Lie! Lie! Lie!”).
Of course, the fact that, in many states (most notably, the more right-leaning ones like Queensland), News Corp. has an effective monopoly on the media, which it runs in a nakedly partisan fashion resembling more Cold War-era Pravda than anything in a pluralist democracy, doesn't help.
The Murdoch papers are no longer reporting the news, but shaping it. They no longer claim objectivity but have become players, powerful advocates on policy issues: hostile to the science of climate change, harsh on refugees, indifferent to the environment, protective of the mining industry, trashing the record of the 43rd parliament, and promoting a dichotomy of uncritical praise and contemptuous loathing. Does it affect outcomes? I am sure that it does, and obviously advertisers think so.
A recent example of this would be a moment from the current-affairs TV show Four Corners, in which a Liberal candidate said that asylum seekers increase traffic congestion in the suburbs.

Speaking of (ir)rationality in Australian politics, the Rationalist Society has published its scorecard of the political parties. Both major parties fail (the Liberals by a slightly greater margin than the ALP), with only the Greens, Secular Party and Australian Sex Party getting top marks. (The Pirate Party, however, have been omitted from the survey for some reason.)

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2013/6/2

Nuke the whales for Jesus: In another example of how politically polarised the US culture war is, research from the US has shown that self-identified “conservatives” are less likely to buy lightbulbs labelled as energy efficient, for ideological reasons; i.e., because, even if such bulbs did save one electricity, buying them would be a treasonous endorsement of the liberals' world-view:

"Our results demonstrated that a choice that wasn't ideologically polarizing without a ("protect the environment") label became polarizing when we included that environmental labeling," Gromet said. "We saw a significant drop-off in conservative people choosing to buy a more expensive, energy-efficient option."
"So it makes that choice unattractive to some people even if they recognize that it may be a money-saving choice. When we asked afterward, those consumers identified the CFL bulbs as providing greater monetary savings over time. But they would forgo that option when that product was made to represent a value that was not something they wanted to be identified with." (See related: "Missing the Chance for Big Energy Savings.")

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2013/4/10

Meanwhile in Australia, the right-wing opposition (and, at this point, almost inevitably the next government come September) has launched its alternative to the Labor government's National Broadband Network policy. It's an improvement on their previous policy (“rip it out, fill in the trenches and let the free market provide”), but nonetheless still falls well short. While Labor's network would bring high-speed fibre-optic connections straight to the home, giving 100 megabits per second (increasing to gigabit speeds), the Coalition's cut-rate plan would extend fibre only to boxes on the kerb, relying on a largely deteriorating copper infrastructure for the “last mile”, topping out at a theoretical 25 megabits per second (though that would be in ideal conditions; as with ADSL, distance from the node and cable condition would affect this). It would achieve this at about 2/3 of the cost of the all-fibre NBN. Or, the Pareto Principle: You're Doing It Wrong.

And while 25Mbps is an improvement on what we have now, and good enough for the sorts of things people do today (watching videos, shopping online, playing games), to say it will be good enough betrays a lack of imagination, or a deliberate narrowing of horizons that is all too familiar in Australian politics. Australia has always been the lucky country, borne at first on the sheep's back and now on Chinese demand for iron ore, which has led to a sclerotic apathy in terms of any sort of forward planning, in particular infrastructure and development. Combined with the stultifying conservatism of the Australian Right from Howard onwards, with its quasi-edenic visions of the conformistic white-picket-fenced utopia of the golden age of Menzies, the implicit message is clear: we are not Korea or Finland. We don't have a Nokia or a Samsung. We're a simple country. Our place in the world is to dig stuff up, put it on big ships and send it to China, and then to go home and relax in front of our big-screen TVs with a tinny of VB. That is all. It's a comfortable life, but we shouldn't get ideas beyond our station. All we need from the internet is to be able to shop online, pay the odd bill and download last week's episode of Jersey Shore a bit faster, and two rusty tin cans and a length of barbed wire fence is good enough for that. Well, that coupled with the sort of facile, nihilistically short-sighted anti-government rhetoric (infrastructure investment is “waste”; you can't prove it's not, so there) that the Abbott government-in-waiting has been borrowing from the US Tea Party.

The Coalition's policy has been roundly criticised by experts and mocked online as “fraudband”. However, all that means zip to the average outer-suburban swinging voters who get 100% of their information from the Murdoch press, right-wing shock jocks and/or 30-minute TV news programmes which are mostly sport, celebrity gossip and wacky human-interest stories, and who actually decide elections. So it looks like Australia, a country which coined the term “tyranny of distance” and was an early adopter of everything from telegraphy to mobile phones, will be stuck behind, paying off a 20th-century system and living much as the generation before them did, just because the bogans hate Julia Gillard.

australia infrastructure internet politics stupidity tech tories 1 Share

2013/3/1

Berliners are protesting against the tearing down of what's left of the Berlin Wall, as a section decorated with murals and known as the East Side Gallery is demolished to make room for—wait for it—luxury apartments.

About 120 international artists were invited to plaster it with colourful murals, as the strip of wall carried none of the colourful graffiti that had covered the western side. In 2009 the murals were renovated at a cost of €2m (£1.7m).
So as Berlin is gentrified, the artists and bohemians are priced out and replaced by wealthy yuppies drawn to the city's aura of cool, and the schicki-mickis as they're called start voting with their euros to have more luxurious accommodation built. And so, yuppie apartment complexes are built, and everything from art squats like Tacheles to sections of the Berlin Wall is demolished to make room for the city's new owners. And soon, Berlin will be a city of prestigious apartment towers, luxury shops and expensive champagne bars, a sort of Dubai with worse weather; the remainders of the city's rough history, artistic ferment and unkempt, boisterous underground culture will be represented by a few curated exhibits that don't interfere with the business of making and spending vast amounts of money. It's a good thing that Berlin has its spectacular scenery and outstanding natural beauty to keep attracting and retaining the wealthy and fashionable after all that messy underground culture is extinct. Oh wait...

There's a petition against the demolition of the East Side Gallery here.

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2012/7/21

Coding Horror has a list of new coding jargon; pithy or apposite terms coined to describe things which, for better or worse, recur in programming:

Yoda Conditions: Using if(constant == variable) instead of if(variable == constant), like if(4 == foo). Because it's like saying "if blue is the sky" or "if tall is the man".
A Duck: A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.
(This pattern recurs in other industries; it's known to illustrators as a “hairy arm”.)
Stringly Typed: A riff on strongly typed. Used to describe an implementation that needlessly relies on strings when programmer & refactor friendly options are available.
Baklava code: Code with too many layers... While thin layers are fine for a pastry, thin software layers don’t add much value, especially when you have many such layers piled on each other. Each layer has to be pushed onto your mental stack as you dive into the code. Furthermore, the layers of phyllo dough are permeable, allowing the honey to soak through. But software abstractions are best when they don’t leak. When you pile layer on top of layer in software, the layers are bound to leak.
Smurf Naming Convention: When almost every class has the same prefix. IE, when a user clicks on the button, a SmurfAccountView passes a SmurfAccountDTO to the SmurfAccountController. The SmurfID is used to fetch a SmurfOrderHistory which is passed to the SmurfHistoryMatch before forwarding to either SmurfHistoryReviewView or SmurfHistoryReportingView. If a SmurfErrorEvent occurs it is logged by SmurfErrorLogger to ${app}/smurf/log/smurf/smurflog.log

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2012/5/4

Cracked's David Wong has a list of five telltale indicators of a bullshit political story; in this case, a “bullshit political story” is one which ignores the actual issues and treats politics as a sporting event, appealing to the audience's identification with one team or other:

The answer is that many (if not most) people don't follow politics in order to find out who to vote for as part of their duty as citizens living in a democracy. They follow it purely as a form of entertainment. They're like sports fans, rooting for their "team" to win. And as you're going to find out, virtually all political news coverage is written to appeal to those people. They're the most rabid "consumers" of news, and their traffic is the most reliable, so the news is tailored to appeal to them. In the business, they derisively call it "horse race journalism," where the stories focus purely on the "sport" of politics rather than the consequences.
The telltale signs are stories with the word “gaffe” in the headline (generally some content-free event giving one half of the stadium cause to hoot and jeer at what dumbasses the other side are), anything about a politician “blasting” the other side (which appeals to the audience's inner wrestling fan), weasel-worded headlines asking a question (the answer to which is generally “probably not”), headlines attempting to escalate random low-ranking members of one political side, generally with non-mainstream opinions, to the status of “lawmakers” or “advisors” and demanding that the leadership take responsibility for them, and real-world political issues being framed as a “blow to” one political side or other:
That's where the gaffe stories come in. See, in this game, your "team" scores a point each time the other team says something stupid. It lets all of the supporters of your team mock and humiliate the supporters of the opposing team, on Internet message boards and around water coolers and in coffee shops nationwide. "Haha! The supposed 'genius' Obama thinks there are 57 states in the U.S.!" "Oh, yeah? Well, your last president said he was going to help terrorists plan their next attack!"
Hey, did you know that Barack Obama is an out-of-touch elitist because he puts fancy Dijon mustard on his hamburgers? Did you know that Mitt Romney is an insane sociopath because he once made his pet dog ride on top of his car 26 years ago? Did you know John Kerry can't relate to the average person because he puts Swiss cheese on his Philly cheese steaks? Did you know that George W. Bush hates foreigners so much that he wiped his hand after shaking hands with a Haitian? Did you know that all of this is petty schoolyard bullshit that wastes valuable time and energy that you'll never get back?
And, as smarter commentators have pointed out, there's an even bigger problem with this: It actually implies that the issue itself is completely unimportant. For instance, if the courts overturn some regulation about mercury in the water or Congress blocks car mileage standards, it always gets reported as "A Blow to Environmentalists." Oh, no, it's not a blow to the people who have to drink the water or breathe the air, or the taxpayers who have to fund the regulations, or the businesses that lose jobs over it. It's either a "blow to environmentalists" or it's not. They specifically make it sound like the effects extend purely to some fringe special interest group and absolutely no one else.
I'm telling you from experience, watching political races this way is addictive as shit. You have thousands of years of violent tribal instincts pumping through your veins, itching for a fight. That makes you an easy tool for manipulation, and every good politician and pundit knows how to push those buttons to make people march neatly in formation. Don't succumb. Or else you'll start supporting the most bullshit legislation just because your guy is for it. Or you'll start knee-jerk rejecting anything the other "team" proposes. Not because it's bad for the country, but because you want to deny them a "win."

(via MeFi) media politics psychology stupidity 0 Share

2012/3/15

Australian comedian-journalist John Safran (think of him as a gonzo Australian version of Jon Ronson, if you will) has started writing for VICE Magazine's web site, covering, as he does, readers' “racial, religious and ethical quandaries”. His first column investigates (apparently at the behest of a Greek-Australian correspondent wondering if he could get away with attending a neo-Nazi music festival) the complex dilemmas facing today's white supremacists when faced with the question of whom to hate:

During Australia’s 2005 Cronulla riots, shirtless boys circled not a brawl, but a debate. A Croatian had turned up to fight. He thought he was one of the whites. He’d come to punch up Lebs. But the "whites" thought, as a Croatian, he was a wog, which is pretty much the same as a Leb. The Croatian couldn’t believe it. He looked really hurt.
The tangle for pro-white Aussies is this. For the global white nationalist movement Greek culture is seen as the cradle of white civilization. It’s what the movement uses to argue its case. Look at that marble Parthenon built in 438 BC! Compare it to the shithole huts the Africans came up with! And what about the philosophers, the statues, the art? Doesn’t it say it all about the races? However in Australia, Greeks were the non-whites, the wogs, the thick eyebrow’d folks who floated over in boats after World War II.
Homegrown white nationalist group Australia First Party is run by Dr. James Saleam. He was thrown in jail for orchestrating a shotgun attack on an African National Congress representative in Australia. Jim is Greek. But it gets better. There are rumors Jim’s faking he’s Greek to cover up his true lineage—Lebanese.

(via johnsafran) australia culture john safran neo-nazis racism stupidity whiteness 0 Share

2012/2/20

The president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, agricultural scientist Nina Fedoroff, has spoken out about a rising anti-scientific mood, largely triggered by corporate-funded populist attacks against science:

As Fedoroff pointed out, university and government researchers are hounded for arguing that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are changing the climate. Their emails are hacked while Facebook campaigns call for their dismissal from their posts, calls that are often backed by rightwing politicians. At the last Republican party debate in Florida, Rick Santorum insisted he should be the presidential nominee simply because he had cottoned on earlier than his rivals Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney to the "hoax" of global warming.
"Those of us who grew up in the sixties, when we put men on the Moon, now have to watch as every Republican candidate for this year's presidential election denies the science behind climate change and evolution. That is a staggering state of affairs and it is very worrying," said Professor Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, San Diego.
This phenomenon is not confined to the United States; Canada's stridently right-wing government has prohibited its scientists from speaking to the public without explicit government vetting. Similar things happened in Australia under the Howard government, and chances are that political censorship of research will return with a vengeance when newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott moves to repay his debts to the mining industry.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the Tea Party and similar right-wing populists are organising against environmental programmes, which they see as parts of a United Nations and/or Communist plot against the American way of life. You see, building bike lanes and high-speed railways is just a plot to coerce the free American people into giving up their SUVs, McMansions and God-given freedom and submitting to collectivisation like the wretched inhabitants of hellholes like Sweden and Switzerland. And as for smart electric meters, they're part of a plot to bring in a Communist dictatorship, just like water fluoridation, the invisible bar codes on road signs which will guide the Chinese UN troops massing south of the Mexican borders as they herd Christian patriots to the reeducation camps, and the Computer God Frankenstein Controls:

In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. Similar opposition helped doom a high-speed train line in Florida. And more than a dozen cities, towns and counties, under new pressure, have cut off financing for a program that offers expertise on how to measure and cut carbon emissions. “It sounds a little on the weird side, but we’ve found we ignore it at our own peril,” said George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association’s chapter in Virginia.
In June, after President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Rural Council to “enhance federal engagement with rural communities,” Fox programs linked the order to Agenda 21. A Fox commentator, Eric Bolling, said the council sounded “eerily similar to a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a centralized planning agency would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order.”

irrationalism paranoia politics populism rightwingers science stupidity 1 Share

2012/1/30

According to this story a British visitor to the US was arrested and deported after he posted to his Twitter feed that he was planning to "destroy America" and "dig up Marilyn Monroe", immediately flagging him as a terrorist threat.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: 'Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America'.

If the story is true (and, given that it comes from the Daily Mail, which never lets the facts get in the way of marshalling popular outrage, that is a considerable 'if'), it implies two things:

  1. The US border control agency (not the CIA or NSA or some other super-elite agency that hunts threats through the shadows, but the guys who scan passports) has a feed of intelligence gathered from the public Twitter feeds of anyone seeking to enter the US (and possibly other social media connected to their identities). This has a number of implications: where does the data come from? Is it just what is publicly linked to the poster's profile online, or does it come from clandestine sources (i.e., a list of user-generated content sites posted to from the visitor's home internet connection, as hoovered up by ECHELON)? Is there some NSA supercomputer quietly building up profiles on several billion internet users, with parts of these being sent to border security if some other part of the surveillance apparatus detects a keyphrase (say, the words "destroy America") in a feed linked to a particular individual?
  2. Given the nature of the tweet (which any reasonable person, had they overheard it in a pub, would conclude was a joke), it implies that, as far as the US Department of Homeland Security is concerned, the entire internet is an airport security zone, where joking about, say, carrying bombs or even an absurdity such as destroying America (how exactly would one go about accomplishing this?) is a punishable offence. There is a reason why joking about bombs at airport security screening lines is prohibited; namely that constraining the allowed range of behaviours whilst passing through a security checkpoint allows the checkpoint to operate. This rationale doesn't extend to applying the same rules to any idle banter uttered by a traveller within earshot of electronic intelligence gathering apparatus, and immediately punishing wisecracks.

If this system is as imperfect and prone to false positives as, say, the No-Fly List implemented in the US after 9/11, where people were banned from flying because their names and birthdates were close to those of suspected terrorists or other troublemakers, you can imagine the zany hijinks that might ensue the next time, say, that a business traveller shares a name with a Trotskyist agitator or radical cleric, or just some joker with, shall we say, different standards of self-restraint.

From what I gather, it is very difficult if not impossible for foreign visitors to seek legal redress against the US immigration authorities. More's the pity, as that will allow such absurdities to stand; with no chance of censure, the Homeland Security officials who made the call technically did the right thing, as there is nothing eligible for consideration to balance the (infinitesimally tiny) chance that they might have caught an actual terrorist. (In fact, they might have to deport enough people to exceed airline capacity out of the US and the capacity of airport holding cells for it to register as a problem.) Anyway, it seems that the moral of this story is: if there's any chance of your wanting or needing to visit the United States, don't joke about bombs or terrorism or drugs or non-specific acts of destruction, or indeed anything other that you wouldn't talk about in an airport security queue.

(via Schneier) paranoia stupidity the long siege twitter usa 4 Share

2011/12/19

The dust hasn't yet settled after David Cameron vetoed the EU financial treaty, setting Britain on a course to the periphery of the EU or beyond, but already the Euroskeptics are lining up to give Johnny Foreigner what for. The latest to stick it to the Frogs and Krauts is the mayor of Bishop's Stortford, whose particular exercise of Churchillian bulldog spirit has been to withdraw his town's twinning arrangement with Villiers sur Marne and Friedberg. Just because.

Mayor John Wyllie has written letters to his honourable counterparts in the town's two twin cities: Friedberg near the German financial capital of Frankfurt, and Villiers-sur-Marne near Paris. He isn't writing to invite them to the usual partnership ceremonies, conferences or youth exchange programs. He is writing to cancel the town's friendship with them, after 46 years. On September 28, 2012, Wyllie informed them that his town would sever all ties with the twin towns. He gave no reason for this break-off of diplomatic relations.
Mike Wood, 66, the only council member from the pro-European Liberal Democrat party, says Tories are "usually normal people. But whenever you mention Europe they turn into some kind of monster."
This comes on the heels of rising anti-European, and particularly anti-German, sentiment in the British populist media, with old WW2 stereotypes being dusted off and trotted out at all the inappropriate moments:
Distrust of the European Union goes hand-in-hand with distrust of Germany, especially among "euroskeptics," the current euphemism for the many haters of the EU in Britain. The headline "Welcome to the Fourth Reich" in the high-circulation Daily Mail summarized the German-French plans to rescue the monetary union.
(You'd think that, coming from a paper with the Daily Mail's history, "Fourth Reich" would be a term of glowing praise...)

Anecdotally, I've noticed that, while the supermarkets of Britain are full of Christmas puddings of all sorts, there is no stollen bread, a British Christmas tradition since cheap flights to German Christmas markets began. I wonder whether the decision to not order any this year comes from market research surveys into anti-German and/or anti-Continental sentiment among the British public.

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2011/4/27

A musician on the Isle of Wight was arrested for racial harrassment after playing the 1970s hit Kung Fu Fighting in front of a Chinese mother and son. He denies deliberately playing the song at them, and says that he was already playing it before they entered and took offence. Does this mean that the Oriental Riff is now considered musical hate speech, the melodic equivalent of a racist epithet?

china culture orientalism political correctness racism stupidity uk 0 Share

2011/3/16

Three young girls in Poole, Dorsetshire received a lesson in property rights after being told off by police for picking flowers in a park, which is technically theft of council property:

But Councillor Peter Adams, who said a family member of his had reported the incident, said taking the flowers amounted to stealing and the behaviour was "unacceptable".
Whitecliff is a council-owned park and therefore removing property from it is technically classed as an offence.
Cllr. Adams stated that the girls were not merely picking a few flowers, but removing them in large quantities. Perhaps they were running some sort of industrial bouquet-making operation?

(via Arbroath) anglocapitalism galambosianism libertarianism stupidity uk 0 Share

2011/2/28

And now to the US, where You Might Be A Teabagger If...:

1) You’re offended at any suggestion that the Tea Party is racist, even though nobody objects when people show up at your rallies with blatantly racist signs and slogans.
9) You believe the Citizens United decision was all about corporate “free speech,” yet you’re against the Fairness Doctrine being reenacted, because you think it’s contrary to “free speech.”
(The Citizens' United decision apparently was a Supreme Court ruling that opened the doors to unlimited corporate political donations, on the basis that corporations are legally persons who have free speech rights.)
22) One of your stated concerns with Barack Obama’s candidacy, was that he was too inexperienced for the job, yet you want Sarah Palin to challenge him next year.
Another sign: voting and/or agitating for lower taxes for the rich, no socialised healthcare and making it easier to dismiss workers, and justifying your views on the grounds that, even though you may be two paychecks away from homelessness, you either (a) consider yourself to be among the rich, (b) expect that you will be rich in the future, or (c) expect that your children will be rich, and don't want to poor working bums cutting into your/their anticipated wealth.

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2010/11/10

Historical artefact from the American culture wars, circa 2010: The Liberal Clause: Socialism on a Sleigh, a children's story book by a demagogue from the right-wing Tea Party movement, in which an evil Obama clone gets elected as Santa Claus and proceeds to ruin Christmas, assisted by a supporting cast of caricatures of liberal political figures, politically-correct straw persons, sinister foreigners and (for some odd reason) cameo appearances by historical dictators, until a little girl catches a glimpse of "Ox News", shakes off her brainwashing and assembles a movement to depose the evil liberals. A few choice excerpts:

From now on, for ever fifteen minutes of work there had to be fifteen minutes of break time. The work day was cut from eight hours to six hours with a two hour paid lunch break. If a toy supervisor gave instructions, the union would hold a meeting with every elf to talk about how they felt about those instructions. Toy quality control was no longer allowed, because it might hurt an elf's feelings. As a result, most toys were assembled wrong and were falling apart.
On top of this, Liberal Claus eliminates toy specialists and replaces them with "general toy practitioners" who follow his instructions to only create little red train cars and nothing else
At some point in the future, this book will either be the pride of some thrift-shop digger's ironic kitsch collection, or puzzled over by archaeologists as they debate the causes of the collapse of the American civilisation, or both.

bizarre culture propaganda psychoceramics rightwingers stupidity usa 0 Share

2010/10/20

British branding expert Simon Anholt, who specialises in advising governments on national identity and reputation, has said that Australia has the image of the "dumb blonde" of the world, seen as attractive but shallow and unintelligent. Which is good when convincing people to fly over to see world-class beaches and koalas, but not so good when Australia's international image takes a battering over something like the wave of racist attacks on Indian students, which has apparently taken a toll on one of Australia's larger non-primary-resource industries, international education.

Mr Anholt said Australia was ranked best in the world for natural beauty and as a place to visit if money was no object. But he said the success of Australia's tourism promotion campaigns had produced an ''unbalanced'' view of the country. ''What you have is an image of a country that is considered to be very decorative, but not very useful,'' he said.
Anholt also said that Australia relied too much on "logos and slogans" for promoting itself on a superficial level, and was unique among developed countries (not counting the US, for obvious reasons) for not having an organisation devoted to promoting its culture abroad, like Germany's Goethe Institut or France's Alliance Française. (Though the austerity-age UK may soon be joining the Aussies in this respect; wasn't the British Council one of the quangos scheduled to be abolished?)
Mr Anholt said the US did not have such an organisation, but arguably did not need one because of the global reach of its entertainment industry. ''But Australia has Les Patterson, and I don't think that's enough.''
Given the fact that Australia's economy is doing rather well, but is almost entirely dependent on the inherited wealth of primary resources (mostly mining), rather than skills, culture or intellectual capital, does this make Australia the Paris Hilton of countries, i.e., a bubbly heiress who can get away (for now, at least) with being a bit dim by virtue of being loaded?

australia culture stupidity 1 Share

2010/10/13

If you use a WiFi-enabled device in any public location frequently, sooner or later you'll find an open network labelled "Free Public WiFi". These appear in the most unlikely places, from secured corporate offices to the giant Faraday cage that is the London Underground, but wherever it is, if you attempt to connect to it, you will face only frustration.

It turns out that "Free Public WiFi" is not a scam or some sort of malware, but the result of a Windows XP bug. Some versions of XP, upon not being able to find any network, will attempt to create their own network, with the same name as the last one they connected to. (Why that made sense to someone, I have no idea.) Which means that, at any time, there'd be a lot of zombie WiFi networks floating around, hosted on Windows XP laptops and named after whatever they connected to last; in other words, a broad sample of network names, which don't do anything, other than inviting passersby to connect to them, like a giant petri dish to test wireless network name attractiveness.

Of course, when someone connects to one of these networks, they don't actually get an internet connection (or anything else, for that matter). If, however, they're running an older version of Windows XP, their machine is now "it", and will next create its own network with the same name as the last network it attempted to connect to. And so, the most attractive names spread like a mostly benign contagion though the wireless spectrum, with the most attractive name being, it seems, "Free Public WiFi". (One might argue that "Free Beer" or something similar would be even more enticing, but for the plausibility gap.) Other common zombie network names you may have seen around are the default names of hardware devices' networks, such as "hpsetup" and "linksys".

(via /.) fail replicators stupidity windows zombies 0 Share

2010/9/22

The problems of maintaining infrastructure in a country where carrying guns is considered a fundamental, God-given right: Google have had to invest in building expensive cable tunnels to an Oregon data centre after their fibre links kept getting shot down by idiots exercising their rights, by means of shooting at the white ceramic targets that have been conveniently placed for their benefit on overhead lines:

"Every November when hunting season starts invariably we know that the fibre will be shot down, so much so that we are now building an underground path [for it]."
Google aren't by any means the only target of this kind of destructive stupidity: every New Year's Day and Fourth of July, US utility companies find themselves having to replace transformers which had been shot by idiots wanting to see cool sparks, and owners of roof-mounted antennas in rural parts of the US have a choice between to providing and maintaining alternative targets for trigger-happy passers-by, or having their (expensive) antennas get it. Still, that's the price one pays for liberty.

Of course, it may well be that the vast majority of hunters are responsible and law-abiding and never vandalise private property in this way, but that's irrelevant. As long as there's a minority, even a tiny one, of belligerent assholes who just like fucking shit up, and another minority of mostly responsible people who do dumb things from time to time after sinking a few Buds, and there's no way of taking these individuals' guns away if they misbehave because firearm ownership is an inalienable human right, the onus is going to be on data centres to bury their cables, property owners to provide targets for these assholes to shoot at, and electricity companies to keep replacing prematurely perforated transformers (and passing the cost on to the consumer).

(via /.) google guns infrastructure stupidity usa 6 Share

2010/9/12

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department has issued a public warning about groups of paedophiles using an image of a cartoon bear they use to secretly identify themselves to one another. (*Ahem* an image of a cartoon bear.)

Recently, pedophiles have adopted the bear as a mascot. Although there have been no reported sightings of the image on the Central Coast, individuals dressed in the bear costume and car decals have been seen in Southern California.
In other news, "Dusty Blonde Lulu" is a codeword used by paedophiles to refer to a male paedophile disguised as a lion.

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2010/8/4

Melbourne now has a bike sharing scheme. Melbourne's new bike sharing scheme It consists of rental bikes (apparently the Canadian model used in London, not the French Vélib), which are rentable from docking stations scattered around the CBD and immediately surrounding areas. (Melbourne University and the Docklands are covered, but the programme stops short of, say, Fitzroy, Richmond and such.) In other words, it's much like the systems in Paris and London, albeit with one crucial difference: it's actually illegal to use unless you happen to be in possession of a bike helmet. These are not supplied at the docking stations, and the police aggressively target those flouting Victoria's mandatory helmet laws.

The helmet laws have had an effect on takeup of the scheme: apparently only 70 trips a day are being made on it, despite the 600 brand new bikes made available; i.e., the system is running at 0.5% capacity. The cycling lobby has been organising protests against the helmet laws; at one such protest, the police came out in force and fined everyone. The law is harsh, but it is the law.

It's not clear what the designers of the scheme were thinking; it's less than useful for tourists, who tend not to bring bike helmets with them or want to spend money on them. As for it being intended for long-term commuters, the fact that the bikes are all in the city centre makes that somewhat less than ideal. Anyway, unless the bike helmet laws are amended (and, with Australia being a car-centric society, this looks unlikely), it's likely that the scheme will be scrapped due to poor patronage. Meanwhile, those wishing to borrow a bike around the inner north may be well advised to go to the Little Creatures Dining Hall on Brunswick St. and borrow one of their fleet of Kronan fixies. They're free and come with helmets, though you'd want to get there early in the day as they tend to get snapped up quickly.

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2010/7/21

What do you do if you're facing a long prison term for fraud? Well, one option is to plead for leniency, and present photoshopped photographs of your charitable works with the sick and underprivileged as evidence. Unfortunately for one Daryl Simon, his Photoshop skills weren't up to the task and the judge noticed that the images were fake and slapped another 50 months onto his sentence, getting it up to 24 years.

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2010/7/6

New research suggests that differences between average national IQs may be due to the prevalence of parasites. One theory posits that children from countries with high incidences of parasites devote energy to fighting them off which would otherwise be spent on brain development.

When the researchers analyzed each factor independently, they found that infectious disease burden was more closely correlated to average IQ than the other variables. "Parasites alone account for 67% of the worldwide variation in intelligence," Eppig says.
Meanwhile, a correlation has been found between incidence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (i.e., the crazy-cat-lady parasite) and a nation's success in football, though the cause of the correlation is still unknown:
Rank the top 25 FIFA team countries by Toxo rate and you get, in order from the top: Brazil (67 percent), Argentina (52 percent), France (45 percent), Spain (44 percent), and Germany (43 percent). Collectively, these are the teams responsible for eight of the last 10 World Cup overall winners.
Now, what does the Toxo parasite do that could possibly relate to soccer performance? Not much is known about its impact on the human brain, but there are clues. We know that infection increases testosterone in male brains, making them more likely to get into car accidents, more attractive to females, and more prone to being jealous, dogmatic, and dismissive of authority. Evidence even suggests that motorcyclists are more likely to have Toxo. Something like a James Dean effect. Generally, males with Toxo are more aggressive and less inhibited. Keep in mind that FIFA, in line with most sporting organizations in the world, bans testosterone supplements of any kind. But they do not ban Toxo, and if Toxo increases testosterone levels, we may be dealing with a form of inadvertent, cultural doping.

(via MeFi, Boing Boing) biology culture football intelligence parasites stupidity 1 Share

2010/6/29

In Paris, fare evaders on the Métro have organised into outlaw insurance societies. The mutuelles des fraudeurs take a monthly fee of somewhere around 7 euros, and in turn offer to pay the fraudsters' fines, should they get caught. They also compile databases of fare-evading tips and encourage those who would otherwise be too timid.

Back in 2001 or so, he and a group of fellow travelers, in both the literal and metaphorical senses, formed the Network for the Abolition of Paid Transport, "the beginning of our struggle," Gildas calls it. The group's initials in French mimic those of the agency that runs the Metro and buses, and to the agency's logo, which looks like the outline of a face, abolitionists added a raised fist.
The mutuelles claim justification, oddly enough, from left-wing ideology. Defrauding the Métro of ticket revenue is not an act of individual greed, you see, but a collective blow against capitalism. It's true that the Paris Métro may not be run for profit as public transport systems in the Anglosphere tend to be, but such trivialities are of no matter when issues of sweeping ideology are at stake. The Métro, they contend, should be free to ride, with the €8bn or so it costs to run each year being paid for by expropriating the rich. (What they'll do when the rich have all been expropriated, or have fled to Russia or Dubai or a floating Galtian utopia on the high seas, they do not explain; nor do they explain how they'll prevent a free, ungated public transport system turning into an expensive homeless shelter, driving away those passengers who have a choice of where to go.) No, they're striking a blow against the fascist regime that is the RATP, and helping to bring forward the advent of the Another World that Is Possible. And, quite probably, breaking the law; insurance against penalties for unlawful acts is generally frowned upon.

(It occurred to me that, were something like the mutuelles des fraudeurs to arise in the English-speaking world, it'd be couched in the language of free-market libertarianism rather than macaronic pseudo-socialism. Rather than attempting to sell a nebulous collective solidarity, it'd speak out to the individual in the language of self-improvement and competition, imploring them to be a winner and not a loser (like the chumps who pay full fare), and would defend itself as the invisible hand of the free market providing a service and/or striking a blow against socialism.)

crime economics france leftwingers paris public transport stupidity 1 Share

2010/6/15

Christopher Hitchens reports on Prince Charles' increasingly ominous anti-science pronouncements, and his even more sinister fellow travellers:

Discussing one of his favorite topics, the "environment," he announced that the main problem arose from a "deep, inner crisis of the soul" and that the "de-souling" of humanity probably went back as far as Galileo. In his view, materialism and consumerism represented an imbalance, "where mechanistic thinking is so predominant," and which "goes back at least to Galileo's assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion." He described the scientific worldview as an affront to all the world's "sacred traditions." Then for the climax: "As a result, Nature has been completely objectified—She has become an it—and we are persuaded to concentrate on the material aspect of reality that fits within Galileo's scheme."
So this is where all the vapid talk about the "soul" of the universe is actually headed. Once the hard-won principles of reason and science have been discredited, the world will not pass into the hands of credulous herbivores who keep crystals by their sides and swoon over the poems of Khalil Gibran. The "vacuum" will be invaded instead by determined fundamentalists of every stripe who already know the truth by means of revelation and who actually seek real and serious power in the here and now. One thinks of the painstaking, cloud-dispelling labor of British scientists from Isaac Newton to Joseph Priestley to Charles Darwin to Ernest Rutherford to Alan Turing and Francis Crick, much of it built upon the shoulders of Galileo and Copernicus, only to see it casually slandered by a moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover.

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2010/4/6

Apparently there aren't enough young people playing Scrabble these days. (Perhaps the demographic of bookish cardigan-wearers and cupcake-crafters tends too much towards the mid-to-late 20s for maximum shareholder value.) In any case, Mattel have decided to attract a younger audience by changing the rules to allow proper nouns and "introduce an element of popular culture into the game". So now EDWARD, BIEBER and LADYGAGA are valid moves.

They will still sell an oldies' edition with the staid, fusty no-sparkly-vampires-or-pop-stars rule. It'll presumably be distinguished by tastefully monochromatic packaging (the regular pop-cultural edition will undoubtedly be printed in a vomitous mix of fluorescent colours, with the letter tiles in Comic Sans).

Update: the rule changes will not apply to Scrabble as such, but rather to a new "yoof-oriented"/"extreme" variant named "Scrabble Trickster". (Thanks to Jessamyn for that link.)

marketing scrabble stupidity 5 Share

2010/4/3

Kevin Anderson, recently Digital Research Editor of the Guardian, on the old media's delusional iPad app pricing, in the hope that Steve Jobs' locked-down walled garden will usher in a new era of double-digit profit margins for content owners:

Looking at the iPad app rollout, you can easily separate the digital wheat from the chaff in the content industries, and you can see those who are developing digital businesses and those who are trying to protect print margins and who see the iPad as a vertical, closed model to control and monetise content.
Examples of this include magazines like Time charging $4.99 a week (the price of a paper copy) for access to their iPad-formatted content. The price of a magazine, as Anderson points out, includes the costs of printing and distribution, whereas on the iPad it's almost pure profit. Of course, the customers get something for their shekel, namely "Unique interactivity including landscape and portrait mode, scroll navigation and customizable font size":
Oh, I’ve never seen that in a mobile web browser, I say with incalculable levels of sarcasm. That’s like morons in the 90s having Java animation that you actually couldn’t do anything with and calling that interactivity. You think that’s insane and delusional, just wait, it gets even better! No content sharing on the app, which I’m assuming means you can’t bookmark or Tweet your favourite stories, and You’ll have to buy and download the app every single week. There is also no indication that they will charge for their now free iPod app or their website.
Note to Time digital strategists: Sorry caching your site so I can take it with me when I’m on the move isn’t a feature worth your premium pricing. I do that now, and have done it for years, with an open-source app called Plucker and an aging Palm T3. I’m truly sorry. Do you actually use the internet or digital devices or do you just indulge your bosses’ angry fantasies about the good old days?
And then there's Rupert Murdoch's inspired unilateral offensive against free news. News Corp. currently charges $2 per week for access to the Wall Street Journal, but aims to extract $17.29 a month from iPad users. Murdoch is also moving aggressively on the web, having announced that, in a few months, both The Times and The Sun will be behind a billgate. Perhaps if The Guardian, Telegraph and Independent go out of business and the BBC voluntarily dismantles its free news service in anticipation of a Tory government, Murdoch can enjoy a lucrative monopoly on the news, though otherwise, it looks like his gamble will fail and The Times, arguably News Corp.'s most prestigious broadsheet, will decline.

Not everybody misses the point, of course; The Financial Times (no relation) and NPR (i.e., the US donation-funded public radio network) apparently get it, and strove to experiment with new ways of engaging with their audience in the digital realm, rather than just seeing how much they can do them for.

In terms of who is positioning themselves for the future by delivering value to their audiences and experimenting with business models, it’s clear. If any company thinks that the iPad will allow them to rebuild the monopoly rent pricing structure of the 20th Century, then you’ve really fallen prey to the Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, and you’ve blown yet another chance to build a credible digital business. However, I’ve got a game you might want to check out, Final Fantasy.

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2010/3/23

Bitten by the "new media" bug, the Tories try their hand at this grass-roots web campaign thing, and launch a Web2.0-licious site, with the irreverently catchy title of "Cash Gordon". This site allows Tory supporters to earn "action points" by donating money or spreading the word. Unfortunately for the Tories, some people notice that it looks awfully familiar:

It turns out that Cash Gordon wasn't developed by David Cameron's bright-eyed web whiz-kids, but was a derivative of several web sites from the US Right, including sites against carbon taxes (see fig. 2), health care reform and gay rights, and for the right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation.

The Tories' misfortune doesn't end there, however. In their haste to embrace the Web and be down with the kids these days, the Tories (or perhaps their American associates) decided to integrate the site with Twitter, and have it automatically display any tweets posted with the #cashgordon tag. It turns out that, in their haste, they didn't anticipate the possibility of basic cross-site scripting attacks, instead displaying HTML tags intact. And it was not long before unsympathetic parties were making the most of it, and potential Tory activists were being rickrolled and Goatse'd.

For what it's worth, Meg Pickard has a graphic of how events unfolded:

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2010/2/15

Australian far-right politician Pauline Hanson, who founded the rabidly anti-immigrant One Nation party and later ran separately on right-wing populist tickets, has announced that she is leaving Australia and plans to emigrate to the UK. She cited as her reason disappointment with the way Australia has changed.

Had she invented a time machine and gone back to the UK circa 1950, she might have a point, but these days, the UK is not so much the cradle of the white British race as another cosmopolitan melting pot, only with better curry and worse coffee. I wonder whether she'll end up joining the BNP.

Now if Pauline Hanson wanted to move to a place populated entirely by people of pure White British stock, there is one candidate: it's named Tristan da Cunha, located in the south Atlantic, accessible only by two ships a year, and its population is comprised of the descendants of British settlers. Everybody's white and either Catholic or Anglican and you can't get a decent pad thai noodles for love or money. It doesn't get much better than this, Pauline.

australia hypocrisy politics racism rightwingers stupidity 5 Share

2010/2/8

As of now, South Carolina legally requires "subversives" to register with the government ($5 filing fee applicable), or face stiff fines and the possibility of prison time:

By "subversive organization," the law means "every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States [or] of this State."
While the intention of the law is apparently aimed at Islamic terrorists, it's unclear in the law's wording whether it can be applied to right-wing militias, some of whom have reputedly called for the overthrow of the US government. The law states that "fraternal" and "patriotic" groups are exempt from the law, but only if they don't "contemplate the overthrow of the government."

(via Boing Boing) law stupidity terrorism usa 1 Share

2010/1/28

Frustrated by continued demands from viewers for more "awesome" and "extreme" programming, the president of the Science Channel (a US cable-TV channel) has taken a stand, refusing to dumb down his network's content any further:

"We already have a show called Really Big Things, which is just ridiculous if you think about it, and one called Heavy Metal Taskforce, which I guess deals with science on some distant level, though I don't know what it is. Plus, there's Punkin Chunkin. Punkin Chunkin, for Christ's sake," added Bunting, referring to the popular program in which contestants launch oversized pumpkins into the air using catapults. "What more do you people want?"
As evidence of their refusal to further water down programming, network sources pointed to a number of proposed shows they've abandoned in recent weeks, including an animal-based bungee-jumping program called Extreme Gravity, and Atom Smashers, a series that was was roundly rejected by focus groups as being "too technical" and "not awesome enough."
"People liked that the particle accelerators were really huge, but apparently the show didn't have enough smashing to hold their interest," said a former employee who wished to remain anonymous. "In the end, it was either add a huge monster truck for no reason whatsoever or pull the plug on the entire project. Honestly, I don't think I'd be able to face my wife and children had we gone through with it."

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2009/10/19

A word of advice: if you're a fugitive from the law, don't post your location to your Facebook page. And if you absolutely must do so, don't add any law enforcement officers to your friends.

(via schneier) crime facebook fail stupidity 0 Share

2009/8/20

In the US, there is a section of the population on the right who just can't stand Barack Obama or anything he supposedly stands for. The very thought of that.. man -- golDANGit! -- makes them so pig-biting mad that it cuts off the flow of oxygen to their brain cells, shutting down whatever capacities they had for critical thinking. We've already seen the results of this in things like right-wing Twitterers uncritically passing on increasingly absurd rumours about Obama's policies, and the entire "birther" movement, in which the desperate need to prove an article of faith ("Ain't no negro my President!" "Obama is ineligible to be President") leads them to build elaborate and bizarre conspiracy theories ("Obama's parents secretly went to Kenya before he was born, and paid someone to post a birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper just in case he ever ran for President"), buttressed by increasingly baroque structures of evasion and supposition, whilst remaining oblivious to how ridiculously implausible the whole thing looks from outside their belief system.

Of course, wherever self-induced stupidity becomes the norm, someone will be making a profit. The US health-insurance lobby, for example, are making hay out of the fact that enough people are whipped into an apoplectic rage by the fact that there's a black man in the Whitehouse that they're willing to believe anything, such as, say, that providing government-subsidised healthcare is equivalent to Nazism and that British Nobel laureate Stephen Hawking would be dead had he been British, and be motivated by it to go out and fight for their right to be bankrupted by illness. And so, once again, the turkeys march out and loudly demand their Thanksgiving.

The latest attempt at milking the enraged mob for all its worth, though, is a bit more direct: some entrepreneurs of above-average moral flexibility are offering the pig-biting mad free software that launches denial-of-service attacks against the Whitehouse web site. The software, of course, is your common-or-garden Windows malware.

The terse spam message links to a website where prospective marks are offered money for installing the dodgy "packet flinging" tool. The attackers missed a chance to make reference to a recent mass marketing campaign from the White House justifying recent healthcare reforms that some have described as spam as supposedly justifying an "aggressive response", for example.
The "DDoS Obama" spam was one theme of a larger spam run, reports email security firm Proofpoint. Other spam messages in the series offered more typical lures, such as pornography, while again pointing to the same malware download.
The spam even helpfully advised the marks that their anti-virus software might identify the downloaded software as harmful.

crime cui bono faith gibson's law politics rightwingers stupidity usa 0 Share

2009/8/5

The latest dispatch from the annals of Apple AppStore approval cluelessness: a dictionary application has made it through the review process only after removing all words that could be considered indecent. NinjaWords' developers tried taking other precautions, such as obtaining a 17+ rating and ensuring that only complete word searches could yield potentially rude words, but to no avail:

The list of omitted words includes some which have utterly non-objectionable senses: ass, snatch, pussy, cock, and even screw. (Ass and cock appear throughout the King James Bible.)
Apple requires you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary that omits half the words Steve Jobs uses every day.
The article points out that even censorship-happy red-state firms like Wal-Mart will quite happily, and legally, sell dictionaries, containing words like "fuck" and "shit", to children, which makes the famously laid-back Californian Apple's censorship policies look even more ridiculous. Either that or those aren't actually Apple's policies but a result of them hiring trained chimps to handle their app review process.

(via alecm) apple censorship iphone stupidity 0 Share

2009/7/30

Struggling major record label EMI (you know, the one whom a venture-capital firm bought out a few years ago) has come up with another plan for snatching defeat from the jaws of slightly more prolonged defeat: to cut costs, they are now going to distribute records only to big "one-stop" retailers like Wal-Mart. Independent stores wanting to carry EMI-signed artists (like, say, Sigur Rós or M83) will now have to send someone down to Wal-Mart to pick the records up at the retail price. Of course, anyone wanting non-current back-catalogue material not likely to be found on the shelves of a big-box retailer is out of luck. Way to go, EMI.

(via /.) emi fail stupidity the recording industry 4 Share

2009/7/23

Imagine, for a moment, that you have published an online multiplayer strategy game. How do you get players to play your game (and, more importantly, spend money on the numerous playability enhancements, from premium-priced instant messages to power-ups) rather than any of the numerous other games out there? Well, you could concentrate on making a particularly playable game, give away accounts and wait for word of mouth to do its work. Or, if you're the publisher of Evony (formerly known as Civony), a game heavily inspired (to phrase it somewhat generously) by Sid Meier's Civilization games only much more heavily monetised, you could bet on the assumption that sex sells and plaster the web with increasingly lascivious ads, in which the traditional cod-Tolkienist clichés gradually give way to gratuitous female nudity, culminating in the apotheosis: a close-up of a lingerie-clad bosom, with nothing about the actual game whatsoever. It's Idiocracy marketing taken a few steps beyond the typical Facebook ads with pictures of hot chicks promoting completely unrelated products, assuming that your target market is comprised entirely of idiots who, when shown pictures of BOOBIES!!!1!, begin drooling like Pavlov's Dog and reflexively get their credit cards out.

And here is a Grauniad piece about Evony. It seems that their dodginess goes well beyond patronisingly pornographic ad campaigns, and extends its slimy tentacles into everything from spamming blog comments to gold-farming and gouging their clientele (the "suckers", as I believe the technical term is) to lifting text and graphics from existing games. These people, it seems, have more contempt for their user base than MySpace.

And as if bad advertising and tenuous intellectual property were not enough, the game is also under fire for its business model – a system that seems intent on getting players to spend as much money as possible. Players are encouraged to buy in-game extras to speed their progress – but the confusing way the game prices its add-ons means that many users may not realise that a simple action, such as sending a message to another player, can cost 15p a time.
It turns out that the site's backers are equally unpopular. Evony is the product of Universal Multiplayer Game Entertainment (UMGE), a developer linked to a Chinese gold-farming operation called WoWMine. That site has also come in for regular criticism, but the real kicker comes with the news that the company's owners are being sued by Microsoft over allegations of click fraud.

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2009/7/7

VICE Magazine's latest piece of exploitation journalism: Babes of the BNP, in which they get a number of young female supporters of the far-right party, each of them as thick as two short planks, to disrobe for the camera and answer a few gentle interview questions:

When people say the BNP is a fascist party, what do you think?
Fascist – I don’t understand that word.
Think of Nazi Germany, or 1930s Italy.
I can’t even remember when that happened really, but I’m against them anyway.
You’re against who?
The Germans. I know that sounds evil… I was brought up that way.
Are most of your friends BNP?
Some of them are. I kind of got into it through my friend Danny. He’s really racist. Everyone calls him “Nazi Danny”. He started telling me about them, and it made a lot of sense.
In terms of the BNP’s repatriation policy on immigration, if you had to choose, who would you repatriate first – Dizzee Rascal or Tinchy Stryder?
Dizzee Rascal. I know this is gonna sound horrible, because he’s the one who’s the most, like… because, my problem is that when immigrants come over to this country, they try and bring in their own churches and languages. And I think he expresses himself more as like an African or whatever he is, whereas Tinchy Stryder is more American. That’s the difference.
Peter Andre – hero or villain?
Aw, hero.
Jeremy Clarkson – hero or villain?
Hero.
Enoch Powell – hero or villain?
Hero.
Nelson Mandela – hero or villain?
Villain.
But would it be possible to maybe come to a compromise with a noble race like the Chinese? Perhaps keep them on as a sort of servant class?
Yeah. I wouldn’t mind them if they actually worked and didn’t take all of our jobs, basically.

(via MeFi) bnp fascism racism stupidity uk vice 0 Share

2009/6/28

A new book reveals how well-meaning but clueless celebrities adopting worthy causes just make things worse:

Her contemptuously funny deconstruction of Sharon Stone's knee-jerk me-me-me! posturings on world affairs reveal the Basic Instinct star as not so much an idiot savant as just an idiot. She recounts Stone's attendance at the 2005 Davos World Economic Forum (!) where she grandstanded during a speech about malaria, offering $10,000 to buy mosquito nets for infected countries. By the end of the session, Shaz had browbeaten fellow delegates to pledge $1 million for the cause.... This all sounds dandy, but a year later, only $250,000 was given, so UNICEF had to come up with $750,000 - money that had to be diverted from other projects. Then there's the tricky detail that many of these nets are accepted by dirt-poor governments who sell them on the black market.

(via trayce) celebrity culture media stupidity 0 Share

2009/6/11

The town of Kingsville, Texas, is doing its bit in the battle against the powers of evil by banning the word "hello", which contains the word "hell":

"When you go to school and church, they tell you 'hell' is negative and 'heaven' is positive,'" said the 56-year-old Canales, who owns the Kingsville Flea Market. "I think it's time that we set a new precedent, to tell our kids that we are positive adults."
On Thursday, courthouse employees were answering the phones, "heaven-o." And the chamber of commerce was working on a campaign promoting Kingsville, a Rio Grande Valley town of 25,000, as a "heavenly" place to visit.
Canales, a Catholic but not a regular churchgoer, has been as serious as heck about "hello" since 1988, when he told his brother he might start greeting people with "God-o." His brother suggested "heaven-o" instead.
Pointing out that the word "hello" has no etymological connection with the word "hell" (the OED says that it stems from an old German greeting for hailing a boat) is, as one might expect, of little avail to the sort of mediæval mindset that finds omens and portents in things.

(via reddragdiva) bizarre hell religion religiots stupidity superstition texas wtf 2 Share

Christian lander, author of the Stuff White People Like blog (and book) visits Melbourne, pronounces it to be "white":

'MELBOURNE is definitely whiter than Sydney," says Christian Lander, before taking a sip of organic Fair Trade coffee. "In Sydney, most people seem to spend their days jogging around large bodies of water," he adds. "Melbourne is more chilled. If I lived in Australia, I'd live here."
And the "whitest" part of Melbourne is apparently North Fitzroy, my old 'hood:
We're in North Fitzroy, huddled over a small table in a trendy cafe-slash-grocer. It's the sort of place that sells organic vegetables, bio-dynamic meat and expensive pots of jam. On weekends, it's overrun by couples with babies on their chests and The Age under their arms. It's the perfect place to begin our search for Melbourne's Whitest Spot.
We leave the cafe and wander down Scotchmer Street and St Georges Road. "This place ticks all the boxes," Lander says excitedly. "Organic bakery! Cafe with retro furniture! Vintage clothing store! Authentic Thai restaurant! And old-school pub! Another organic bakery!"
But then we encounter a pub with — oh no! — pokies. "Everything about this place is problematic. It's definitely not white. But, paradoxically, it makes this suburb even whiter because it reminds everyone that working-class people still live here, which makes it more authentic."
Lander has some other observation on the "whiteness" of Melbourne:
We hop on a tram and spend the next three hours strolling around Brunswick and Fitzroy. Lander asserts that Smith Street's grungy vibe makes it slightly whiter than Brunswick Street. But Gertrude Street, with its record shops, handmade toy retailers and natural cosmetics stores, is the whitest of the lot. It is here his wife Jess buys a funky koala doll for a friend's baby. "That koala was made by someone who lives in Fitzroy," the assistant tells her. Big white tick.
(Smith St. is "whiter" than Brunswick St.? I'm guessing that he hasn't encountered its significant Aboriginal community. Or is Brunswick Street by now gentrified and suburbanised and changed to a different colour (perhaps pink, after the SubGenius usage)?)

Of course, by "white", he undoubtedly means "creative class" or "bourgeois bohemian" or somesuch, with an undertone of opprobrium, a hint of latent racism or sharply wielded and insufficiently atoned-for privilege. Note: merely having the privilege of not having been oppressed for one's skin colour doesn't seem to qualify one as "white"; otherwise, why is having a preference for organic food, vintage clothing and authenticity any more "white" than, say, NASCAR racing or country music, or the default option of honestly vegetating in front of a suburban plasma screen with a bucket of KFC? Lander seems to be identifying whiteness as the hypocrisy of pretending that one is something other than an oppressor whilst maintaining privileges derived from oppression. At least people who drink instant coffee, listen to commercial radio and get their clothes from K-Mart are honest, he seems to say.

Landers doesn't put the case directly in this fashion, and doesn't actually level a serious accusation. Instead, he asserts that "white people" here are "hipsters". Which brings us to the question of what is a hipster. Originally it meant a jazz enthusiast in the 1950s (and, coincidentally, Norman Mailer described the hipster as "the White Negro", in reference to their embrace/appropriation of African-American culture). Now it seems the word is used in several ways. It is used by people of low cultural engagement saying "those people are weird, I don't get them, heh heh", sometimes in a pejorative sense. On the other hand, you often get people who are engaged in creative cultures self-describing as "hipsters", in quotes, because it saves having to explain themselves, and in the next breath using the word pejoratively for superficial fashion victims (or perhaps those whose subculture they don't get).

When the word hipster is used in the pejorative sense, at its harshest it becomes synonymous with pejorative uses of the word "gay"; an aggressive assertion of the metaphorical homosexuality of the subject.

Incidentally, this is not the only parallel between hipsterism and homosexuality. Richard Florida, author of The Rise Of The Creative Class, pointed out a correlation between locales with gay scenes and locales with creative activity. As such, Lander's "whiteness" could be a repackaged form of "gayness", and if one can argue that being a "hipster" is latent racism, one could also argue that hipster-bashing is latent homophobia.

creative class culture hipsters metaphorical homosexuality north fitzroy race stupidity whiteness 9 Share

2009/6/5

After yesterday's European elections, the UK Independence Party (an angry right-wing populist party, somewhere between the Daily Mail and the BNP, only without the overt racism of the latter) complained angrily that they were cheated of victory because their party's box was hidden behind a fold on the ballot paper, and called for the election minister's resignation:

In a letter to Mr Wills, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "We are outraged that today's European election have not been contested on a free and fair basis.
"We have been swamped with upset voters who failed to find us on the ballot paper. In many cases they have voted for other parties such as NO2EU and even the BNP."
Having voted, I saw the ballot paper in question. It was the standard one-sided ballot paper, considerably longer than it is wide, as to accommodate the dozen or so party lists in reasonably legible type. It had been folded, though (with the one I got, at least) it was fairly obvious that there was more paper behind the fold. To suggest that a significant number of probable UKIP voters didn't notice this and were thus disenfranchised (or, even worse, tricked into voting for those nasty fascists whom we honestly have nothing in common with) doesn't say much about the UKIP's opinion of its own target audience's intelligence.

politics rightwingers stupidity uk ukip 0 Share

2009/4/17

More dispatches from the War on the Unexpected: London police forced an Austrian tourist to delete photographs of a bus station, on the grounds that photographing transport infrastructure was "strictly forbidden". Which sounds like something more befitting of, say, Belarus or North Korea than of an ostensibly free country:

Matkza, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden". The policemen also recorded the pair's details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses.
In a telephone interview from his home in Vienna, Matka said: "I've never had these experiences anywhere, never in the world, not even in Communist countries."
Meanwhile, in the United States, police seized a student's computers on the grounds that he was using a suspicious operating system (i.e., Linux), and thus probably up to no good:
_________ reported that Mr. Calixte uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities. One is the regular [Boston College] operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.
Which sounds like he's guilty of some kind of technological witchcraft.

(via schneier) authoritarianism linux london paedoterrorists paranoia stupidity the long siege uk usa 3 Share

2009/2/11

As bushfires swept across south-eastern Australia, wiping out towns and killing hundreds, people asked why. Some pointed to climate change, the lack of backburning in recent years or flawed town planning. One man, however, has a different theory. According to Pastor Danny Nalliah, former Family First political candidate and friend of the former Howard government, the bushfires were God's wrath for Victoria having recently decriminalised abortion:

The evangelical church's leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with "a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb".
He quoted a headline describing the fires as "The Darkest hour for Victoria". "A few months ago the news media should have reported 'the darkest hour for the unborn', but unfortunately the 'Decriminalisation of Abortion bill' went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria 'the baby killing state of Australia,' " Mr Nalliah said.
Had Victoria not passed the bill, the bushfires would presumably have been God's wrath for something else, such as permitting divorce, suffering homosexuals to live or wearing clothes of mixed fibres.

Of course, Pastor Nalliah doesn't speak for all Christians or theists; far from it. The Age's religious editor, Barney Zwartz, points out that, actually, that's not what God is about, citing Bible verse to back up his point. Needless to say, he cites different Bible verses to the ones the Pastor does. That's the marvellous thing about scripture; it's so ambiguous that one find things in it to back up wildly divergent positions.

God, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment.

australia christianity natural disasters religion religiots rightwingers stupidity 3 Share

2009/1/27

A US congressman has taken a leaf out of Japan's book and proposed a law requiring camera phones to make a sound when a photo is taken, to prevent evil perverts from surreptitiously photographing people for their vile gratification. The Camera Phone Predator Alert Act will also prohibit the sale of phones in which the tone can be disabled. And, of course, it will make taking photos at concerts or weddings or similar more fraught, though... for God's sake, won't someone think of the children‽

Mind you, the bill appears to be the brainchild of one Congressman, with no cosponsors, which suggests that it probably won't come anywhere near becoming law.

(via /.) law paedoterrorists stupidity usa 2 Share

2008/12/27

A group calling itself Sense About Science, and dedicated to combatting scientific illiteracy, has published its review of scientifically illiterate statements made by celebrities in 2008. There were the usual one might expect (Tom Cruise's views on psychiatry, various others' advocacy of dubious "detox diets" and similar quackery), along with some real humdingers:

Sarah Palin, Mr McCain's running mate, waded into the mire with her dismissal of some government research projects. "Sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not," Ms Palin said. But the geneticist Ellen Solomon takes Ms Palin to task for not understanding the importance of studies into fruit flies, which share roughly half their genes with humans. "They have been used for more than a century to understand how genes work, which has implications in, for example, understanding the ageing process," she said.
Mind you, even the stupendously awesome Barack Obama (who, it must be said, has been recruiting sound scientific thinkers to his cabinet) is taken to task for suggesting that there may be a link between MMR vaccines and autism, which, according to Ben Goldacre, has been thoroughly discredited.

barack obama culture new-age pseudoscience sarah palin science stupidity 1 Share

2008/12/12

A representative of Britain's Police Cental E-crime Unit has complained about how difficult their job is, and outlined what would really help: a nifty black box, as easy to use as a breathalyser, which can identify illegal activity on PCs:

McMurdie said such a tool could run on suspects' machines, identify illegal activity - such as credit card fraud or selling stolen goods online - and retrieve relevant evidence.
"For example, look at breathalysers - I am not a scientist, I could not do a chemical test on somebody when they are arrested for drink driving but I have a tool that tells me when to bring somebody in."
Of course, knowing New Labour, this will probably result in legislation mandating police-accessible data-logging devices in all PCs. And the legislation will make these devices not only accessible to the police, but also to the Inland Revenue, TV Licensing, the British Phonographic Industry and local council officials. And, knowing that laws (specifically British laws dealing with privacy and data security) are drafted in a parallel universe in which security is perfect, there will be no possibility whatsoever of these devices either being defeated by the potential paedoterrorists they are meant to monitor or else hijacked by other criminals and used to massively victimise the innocent.

(via /.) crime new labour paedoterrorists ponies privacy stupidity surveillance totalitarianism uk 0 Share

2008/10/28

A British scientist has come up with a bold solution to the environmental consequences of aviation: nuclear-powered airliners. Not only will they be able to fly around the world without a break, emitting no carbon whatsoever, but they could also be made safe. The nuclear engines would be on the wings in armoured casings, and could be jettisoned on parachutes in the event of the plane falling (and, presumably, the pilot giving up any hope of saving it). Should the casings rupture, the worst that could happen would be radioactive contamination over a mere few square miles. (Of course, there is also that, should terrorists blow up, shoot down or hijack one of these airliners, they'd have a most serviceable dirty bomb, though surely somebody would have thought of an answer to that. After all, they wouldn't suggest such an idea otherwise, would they?)

Despite these reassurances, Professor Ian Poll concedes that it would take about 30 years to convince the public of the benefits of nuclear aviation.

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2008/10/24

A 21-year-old Australian call centre employee is facing unspecified disciplinary action after taking sick leave and bragging on Facebook that he was absconding from work due to a hangover. Kyle Doyle's undoing seems to have been that, at some earlier time, he had added his boss to his friends list, which suggests that he might not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer; if you're looking for a partner to pull off the perfect crime with, he's probably not your man.

Heaping irony on top of stupidity, the snapshot of his profile that is circulating with the damning admission lists him as a supporter of the "Liberal Party of Australia", the right-wing party which introduced harsh industrial relations laws which, among other things, allow employers to demand medical certificates for as little as one day of sick leave.

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2008/8/25

Canon have announced the next crop of PowerShot cameras, at least in the A and S series. As expected, they're still running the megapixel race hard, cramming more and more increasingly tiny pixels into a pocket-sized sensor to give the public excitingly bigger numbers, whilst ignoring the growing chorus of criticism that more pixels aren't better. So when you buy one and realise that your new 10-megapixel photos look like crap compared to the old A570IS you just replaced (which didn't look that crash hot when compared to the silky-smooth dynamic range from your ancient 4MP PowerShot G2), you'll know why, and wish you had gone and bought a camera with fewer pixels. Well, if they actually still made them, that is.

You can blame the gullible idiots who are convinced that more pixels is better, have no idea of esoteric concepts such as "noise" or "dynamic range", and will rush out to buy anything with a higher pixel count, dooming any compact camera with fewer, decent-sized pixels to certain death in the marketplace. Though you'd think that there'd be enough people with a clue and a demand for a high-quality pocket-sized camera with the right compromises made in its design parameters to give the best (as opposed to biggest) images you can expect from that size, for Canon (or someone) to bother making such a line.

(via Engadget) canon gadgets photography stupidity 1 Share

2008/4/26

Could this be the worst security hole ever? The Oklahoma Department of Corrections' sex offender database site allowed users to issue arbitrary SQL queries on their database (which contained the complete details of anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of the law). The "print friendly link" took, as its argument, a SQL query, which it would then execute. Which, of course, means that not only could someone get enough details about anyone in the database to steal their identity, but could quite possibly insert arbitrary data into the government's official sex offender database. You can probably imagine the kinds of fun that someone could have with that.

(via Schneier) privacy security sql stupidity tech 0 Share

2008/4/4

Today's words of advice: should you ever decide to burgle a funeral parlour, it is advisable to dress the part, so that, should you be interrupted, you can blend in with the customers, unlike this guy:

Police officers arrived with the owner, and eventually found the suspect lying on a table in a glassed-in chamber used for viewings of deceased people during wakes, a local police official said from Burjassot.
"The custom here is for dead people to be dressed in suits, in nice clothes that look presentable. This guy was in everyday clothes that were wrinkled and dirty," the police official said.
Also, should you have the dubious fortune to be nicknamed after a weapon of mass destruction, don't write your nickname on any items you may leave lying around.

(via Boing Boing) bizarre crime death deception stupidity the long siege 0 Share

2008/4/3

Something which amuses me is the ads on Facebook, and the juxtapositions of irrelevant images (typically of attractive-looking young women, at times in provocative poses) next to pitches for products of various dubiosity, ranging from fairly well-known credit-rating agencies to get-rich-quick schemes and online gambling sites, but having as a common feature an inherent lack of sex appeal. The rationale, I'm guessing, is pure postmodern cynicism: somewhere, some executive decided that the model consumer they're pitching at is like one of the slack-jawed halfwits from Idiocracy ("Gee, I don't know the first thing about work-from-home schemes and stuff... but I sure like hot chicks!"), and decided to market at this notional demographic. Not aiming merely for the dullards, but also for those consumers, brought up on trashy television and celebrity gossip, who are well versed in the practice of simulating being simpletons in order to be entertained, as the Judd Apatows and Seann William Scotts of this world (and their bank managers) know. Call it cognitive slumming, if you will.

Sometimes, though, the juxtaposition between the content (or, rather, its tone) and the Irrelevant Hot Chick Picture becomes quite jarring. Case in point:

advertising bizarre cynicism facebook irritainment marketing stupidity 0 Share

2008/4/1

Australia has apparently outlawed laser pointers after some griefers decided to aim them at aircraft for lulz. (Maybe they hoped that they'd get lucky and bring one down and get to see lots of cool flames and shit.) And so, thanks to the actions of a few cretins, the nation's cats are deprived of one more source of amusement.

(via MeFi) australia authoritarianism cats griefers laser pointers stupidity 1 Share

2008/3/12

A gay Iranian teenager who fled to Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for sodomy is facing deportation to Iran, and almost certain death. Britain's Home Office has already denied Mehdi Kazemi, 19, asylum, and now the Netherlands is extraditing him to Britain:

"There is no doubt that Mehdi will be arrested and probably executed if he is sent back there," said his 51-year-old uncle, a salesman from Hampshire. "The police have issued a warrant for his arrest. He will be in terrible danger if he goes back."
Mr Kazemi's father has also told him that if the state doesn't kill him, he will. "His father is very angry but his mother still loves him. She is extremely worried for him but she is in a very difficult position. In Iran, mothers don't stop loving their children because they are gay."
A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed Mr Kazemi had exhausted all his domestic avenues of appeal and could expect to be detained pending his deportation. But she added: "Any further representations will be considered on their merits taking into account all the circumstances."
Meanwhile, in Lancashire, a court has heard that a gang of teenagers beat a 20-year-old woman to death because she was dressed as a Goth. The woman's boyfriend was severely bashed and left with brain damage. It is not clear what the assailants' dispute with the victims' subcultural orientation was, or indeed what their own views were, though it'd probably be a safe bet that they were of the hoody-wearing persuasion.

And the ultra-conservative former prime minister of Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has spoken out against allowing internet voting because the internet is for pornography:

"I am not an enthusiast of a young person sitting in front of a computer, watching video clips and pornography while sipping a bottle of beer and voting when he feels like it," he was quoted as saying on his party's revamped Web site.
He added that Internet users are "the easiest group to manipulate, to suggest who to vote for."
He's right, if one defines being manipulated as being persuaded to put aside cherished prejudices and entertain new, potentially controversial, ideas.

bigotry chavs cluelessness gay goth internet iran poland rightwingers stupidity uk 3 Share

2008/3/6

London's Brick Lane is installing padded lamp posts to reduce injuries to people walking into them whilst texting on their mobile phones.

Is this a common problem? It could be argued that it would be better to attach spikes to the lamp posts, and let the not-looking-where-you're-going gene weed itself out of the gene pool.

(via Engadget) mobile phones social implications stupidity tech 0 Share

2008/2/29

Spare a thought for Mark Boyle, the 28-year-old English hippie who planned to walk from Bristol to India without any money for world peace or something similar, subsisting only on the charity of strangers. Alas, it was not to be, and Mr. Boyle gave up his quest at Calais after his lack of money and inability to speak French caused the locals to think of him as a free-loader or an asylum seeker.

Not one to be easily dissuaded by the cold hard impact of reality, Mr. Boyle has strategically downsized his plans to a walk around the coast of Britain, learning French as he goes, for another attempt in future.

culture fail french hippies language stupidity 2 Share

2008/2/8

When voters in Chicago found that the pens they were given to mark ballot papers didn't work, the officials told them not to worry, as the pens contained invisible ink, which would be counted by the scanners. Surprisingly, 20 people accepted this and turned in blank ballot papers.

(via Boing Boing) chicago democracy politics stupidity usa voting wtf 0 Share

2008/1/28

A year or so ago, Sony's egregiously misnamed Universal Media Disc format (a prooprietary optical disc which only plays in one device—the Sony PlayStation Portable)—essentially died as a viable medium for selling anything other than PSP games. For some reason, people didn't want to spend good money on a low-resolution copy of a movie, bound to a plastic cartridge, for viewing on their PSP; perhaps the number of PSP owners who would use their units for repeatedly watching Spiderman 2 on the train, as opposed to, say, playing videogames, wasn't that great to begin with, and the percentage willing to incur the cost of buying a movie in this inflexible format was even lower. Not even Sony giving away UMDs of their films with DVDs, for only slightly more money, could revive the flagging format.

So now, we learn that Sony are trying to revive the UMD format as a medium for movies by selling TV shows on it, in conjunction with MTV (formerly a music-video channel, now a purveyor of entertainment to the lucrative young-and-dumb demographic). That's right; presumably some executive decided that, while people may not be willing to pay money for a disc containing a version of a movie that only plays on their PSP, they'd be willing to do so for some episodes of Beavis & Butthead. Unless they're planning to bundle them with boxes of breakfast cereal or something.

It's not just the cost of purchasing the disc that counts; it's also the cost of having another bit of plastic taking up space in your house and your mental filing system. As the value of the bits of plastic decreases, the awkwardness of their material nature increases. (A video game you may spend many hours playing is worth a plastic disc and case to store it in—not to mention £25 or however much it costs— a movie you watch once or twice, less so, especially since looking at a small handheld screen is not the best way to enjoy movies if there are alternatives. A few episodes of a TV show sounds like an even more marginal proposition, and the sort of problem that downloads were invented to solve.) Especially in a format whose flexibility is deliberately limited.

business dead media marketing media mtv sony stupidity tech umd 3 Share

2008/1/26

A chap named Virgil Griffith has correlated the most popular books at every college in the US (as fetched from Facebook) with that school's average test score to find a correlation between intelligence and favourite books. According to Griffith's study, the book most correlated with high scores is Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, and that with low scores is the Holy Bible (not to be confused with the Bible, which is around the middle, just below Harry Potter); other books correlated with high scores are Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, and Freakonomics, and books dumber than "I Dont Read" include various erotica and hip-hop/ghetto fiction, The Purpose Driven Life and Fahrenheit 451. Slightly smarter than not reading are the likes of Fight Club, Dan Brown and John Grisham, along with Shakespeare's Hamlet; sci-fi, fantasy and geek/fan-interest books like The Lord of the Rings, Dune and, umm, Eragon rate more highly. (Mind you, this is correlated to test scores, not cultural well-roundedness.)

It would be interesting to see one of these correlating a measure of intelligence (such as test scores) with other factors, such as favourite music (I imagine things that a lot of geeks listen to, like metal, industrial and prog rock would come out on top, and rap-metal/nu-metal and R&B would come out fairly low), movies, or even which Facebook groups/applications one has installed.

(via Boing Boing) culture data mining facebook intelligence society stupidity 3 Share

2008/1/15

Top 100 quotes from Christian Fundamentalists on the web. Pure comedy gold:

Atheists have the greatest "cover" of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.
Gravity: Doesn't exist. If items of mass had any impact of others, then mountains should have people orbiting them. Or the space shuttle in space should have the astronauts orbiting it. Of course, that's just the tip of the gravity myth. Think about it. Scientists want us to believe that the sun has a gravitation pull strong enough to keep a planet like neptune or pluto in orbit, but then it's not strong enough to keep the moon in orbit? Why is that? What I believe is going on here is this: These objects in space have yet to receive mans touch, and thus have no sin to weigh them down. This isn't the case for earth, where we see the impact of transfered sin to material objects. The more sin, the heavier something is.
I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don't think he's ready to date yet. What's worse is that he's sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!
I can sum it all up in three words: Evolution is a lie
Apes are just creatures twisted by Satan to mock Jesus by giving EVILolition credibility. Further more they are naturally lust crazed for human women. Since they are not natural creatures they should be exterminated forthwith as the tools of evil they are.
The word of God has been in heaven forever. The KJV has always been there. The so called Hebrew words like Alleluia are English words. The English did not borrow them from the Hebrew but rather the Hebrew borrowed them from the English. If the KJV has always been there and is the original word of God then there is no other conclusion. The same can be said for any so called Greek words that were borrowed from the Greek or transliterated. It is a matter of what bias you approach this particular subject.
Jesus is not a Jew. Jesus was Jewish.
Do you know what medical students are exposed to as they are learning about medicine? In one college course, students were required to "examine" other stripped down students! This is abominable. Is it worth it to go through that kind of education and ignore God's Word? Looking on nakedness is a shameful and intolerable thing. And most employment for doctors and nurses requires looking on other people's nakedness (bathing patients, giving shots, operating, examining, etc.) What will we do as people who have been bought at the very high price of the blood of God? What will be most important to us? Our careers... or our integrity as priests of God?
Of course, it's not all champagne comedy; there is some tragedy in there, such as the story of the woman whose gay son committed suicide, calls to exterminate homosexuals or evolutionists and re-enslave black people, or the MySpace user claiming that rape victims are, "in Gods eyes", married to their rapists, and concluding that "it sucks for the girl but what can we do lol".

(via Charlie's Diary) christianity creationism fundamentalists religiots stupidity unclear on the concept 1 Share

2007/10/11

Some hackers are creating a system for detecting stupidity in text using Bayesian techniques:

In the beginning, the internet was a place where one could communicate intelligently with similarly erudite people. Then, Eternal September hit and we were lost in the noise. The advent of user-driven web content has compounded the matter yet further, straining our tolerance to the breaking point.
It's time to fight back.
When completed, StupidFilter will be available in a variety of forms, including web browser and content management system plug-ins. So far, the project just has a corpus of text samples, rated by "stupidity", and mostly taken from YouTube comments, from which you can see random selections here.

Of course, such a system is going to work only if you define "stupidity" in purely stylistic terms (such as using words like 'lol' and 'omfg!!1!!eleventyone'), ignoring semantics altogether. In which case it becomes a way of keeping the rabble who don't punctuate properly out of your blog comments. Perhaps then someone will develop an extra-prescriptivistic filter which blocks comments containing split infinitives or inappropriate semicolons, for those wishing to move up to a higher class of gated community.

(via Boing Boing) culture grammar internet newbies punctuation stupidity 0 Share

2007/6/2

A family in the Northern English city of Newcastle claim that they have been forced to move home twice afrer being violently persecuted for their red hair. WTF? That's insane.

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2006/11/12

Could this be a new record for concentrated stupidity on an advertising poster?

That's right: a male cow. Either:

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2006/10/31

Charlie Stross has posted a collection of Amazon reviews of classic books that miss the point spectacularly:

1984 by George Orwell:
Caitlyn from Atlanta, GA, wrote: "1984 is the worst book I have ever read. I would advise anyone who is thinking about reading this book to reconcider! George Orwell is not a bad writer, however, this book he does not do evry well on, as some of his others. Prehaps he was getting old and lost his touch. Animal Farm was okay, but 1984 was horrible. It took him forever, it seemed like, to get into the accual book. If someone were to take out all of the useless part of 1984, it would be half as long. Why would he wirte so much about nothing? I havent ever meet someone who could wirte such a boring book about the goverment. I have meet many people who have loved this book, but i dispised it. I am not at all intrested in the goverment. This may be part of the reason that I didnt like it. I would advise you not to read this book."
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:
R. Vanderhoof wrote: "I spent several weeks slogging through this book and found it to be very repetitive and tedious in the extreme. Keeping track of the family tree is a constant effort. At best, Marquez reveals an egalitarian attitude that seems to pervade the Americas south of the Rio Grande (no wonder those countries are in constant economic trouble). Marquez should study supply side economics as described by Milton Friedman, another Nobel Prize winner, in order to give his book better balance."
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:
A reader wrote: "I found this book difficult to follow and hard to hold my interest. I am an English teacher so I don't think it's me. I was revved about the book and started it immediately unpon receipt. I didn't even finish it--which is something I can say about few books..."
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare:
Son of Sammy wrote: "i just read this book. everybody like always talks about how great it is and everything. but i don't think so. like, it's been done before, right?? soooo cliched. omg."
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck:
M. Landis wrote: "This book was 600 pages written purly about a bunch of hicks from Oklahoma starving. Thanks, but no thanks."
It has been said that when the finger points at the moon, the idiot stares at the finger. There seems to be a lot of staring at fingers going on in the above book reviews.

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2006/10/4

According to the UK's Public Health minister, pregnant teenagers are deliberately taking up smoking to have smaller babies and thus an easier birth.

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2006/6/2

According to NME, that Daily Star of Indie™, Oasis' "Definitely Maybe" is The Greatest Album Of All Time™. It is followed by lesser luminaries such as The Beatles (at #2. #3, #13 and #14; not bad for an earlier, imperfect form of what Oasis would become), The Clash ("London Calling" is at #12), David Bowie (#18) and The Smiths (#9). Elsewhere on the chart is a lineup of NME darlings from years past, including The Stone Roses (#7), The Strokes (#20) and glamorous-nihilists-with-really-good-stylists The Libertines (#15). That really says it all about NME.

(via xrrf) carling-indie nme oasis populism stupidity 8 Share

2005/11/20

Some people have strange ways of celebrating their sports teams' victories, such as by spontaneously castrating themselves with wire cutters.

"I'd told my pal Gethin Probert before the game that Wales didn't stand a chance," Mr Huish told The Sun. "It wasn't a bet but I said I'd cut my b*lls off if we won."
I guess he showed his mates that he was a man of his word and had the balls to do it, 'had' being the operative word.

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2005/11/19

Australian lingerie model arrested for ecstasy possession in Bali released. Michelle Leslie, best known for appearing in an underwear ad, has been released from prison and deported as a criminal after the prosecution in her ecstasy-possession case agreed to only seek a penalty of 3 months' imprisonment (i.e., the time served). It is not clear whether she would have received a more severe sentence had (a) she not allegedly been with the son of Indonesia's Economics Minister at the time of the arrest, or (b) the Indonesians not feared hordes of bloody-minded tabloid-reading Ugly Australians boycotting Bali and demanding their tsunami-aid donations back if one of their sheilas went down.

I suspect that the pivotal factor in Leslie's early release was not her showing up in a burqa at her trial and announcing that she had converted to Islam, seemingly oblivious to the fact that (a) Bali is a largely Hindu province, and (b) burqas are not commonly worn in Indonesia. Oddly enough, she did not seem to be observing Islamic traditions of modest dress upon release; perhaps when she sells her story to Womens' Weekly or the Herald-Sun, she'll say that Islam was just a phase she was going through, as if it were Kabbala or Scientology or Hollywood Buddhism or something. (Though doesn't converting from Islam technically make her an apostate? I wonder whether she'll end up with a fatwa on her head.)

australia drugs indonesia islam michelle leslie stupidity tsunami ugly australians 1 Share

2005/11/9

A list of expensive products for "audiophiles" with more money than common sense. It includes the usual sorts of things: $30,000 speaker cables, "cable elevators" to keep said cables from being compromised by contact with carpet, $1,500 power cords to ensure that the electricity that powers your hi-fi reaches it in pristine condition (apparently the high voltage lines outside your house aren't a problem, presumably because you can't pay to replace them with ridiculously expensive versions), and special, magically expensive, pieces of wood; as well as various hand-wavey mystical artefacts, such as lacquer which removes "overtones" and a magic chip which, when placed on a CD player, makes CDs sound better (apparently it works by means of quantum physics), not to a "CD clarifier" which not only enhances the sound of audio CDs, but also enhances the experience of "Multimedia CD-ROMs and Photo CDs". (I wonder if it'll make your copy of Microsoft Office work better too.)

(via Gizmodo) audiophiles scams snake oil stupidity 0 Share

2005/8/21

A shop in Manchester is reporting a surge in business after a young gentleman in hooded jacket broke in and stole a laptop. The thief seemingly failed to notice the significance of the shop's name being "CCTV Surveillance Solutions", and was caught on no fewer than eight separate cameras; shop owners and police are confident of an imminent arrest.

Store owner David Arathoon said people saw his clear CCTV images in the press and wanted that for themselves. "He's given us publicity that we could never have dreamed of," he said.

(via darwin) crime stupidity surveillance 0 Share

2005/6/10

What mobile-phone-related juvenile-delinquency fad could come after "happy slapping"? How about train-dodging, where kids use their camera phones to film themselves playing chicken with trains, and proving how hardc0re they are by staying on the track until the last possible minute, and then post the videos to dedicated train-dodging web sites. Of course, the hardest of the hardcore are the ones who don't jump out of the way like a big girl's blouse, instead choosing to become track chutney (and, rumour has it, extra-valuable video files for trading). Which seems even more Darwinian than the old-sk00l craze of train-surfing.

(And then, one imagines, there are probably those who combine train-dodging with gricing, filming themselves jumping out of the path of trains in the nude.)

(via districtdriver) darwin railway stupidity train-dodging 2 Share

2005/4/29

Some genius in the Netherlands has proposed a tax on MP3 players, with as much as €3.28 per gigabyte being slapped onto the price of each MP3 player, the proceeds going solely to the major record labels. This tax is set to become law in a few months. Were the tax extended to PC hard drives, it would increase the prices of hard disks many times over. Of course, given that Germany and Belgium are a short drive away, and under the EU constitution, there's nothing the Dutch government can do to stop the flow of tax-free iPods from German (or British or Slovenian or whatever) online retailers, the whole exercise seems about as effective as "Copy Controlled" audio CDs.

europe stupidity the recording industry 0 Share

2005/1/2

For your amusement, this charming photo-essay titled "Why Women Live Longer Than Men", and giving eight scenes which, had it not been for luck, could have been Darwin Award material. (via darwin, of course)

amusing darwin photos stupidity 0 Share

2004/12/15

A 21-year-old Perth man is lucky to be alive after a home-made motorised beer bong, with a pump powered by an electric drill, blasted a shot of beer down his throat, rupturing his stomach and forcing beer into his abdomen. (via bOING bOING)

"No one else had any problems and I didn't think it would be any different to other things like funnels that people use," he said. "But I knew something wasn't right soon after I drank from it. I started spewing up red stuff and was in a lot of pain."
Surgeon David Cooke said the split in the wall of the man's stomach had pushed food and beer into his abdominal cavity, making him septic. His insides had to be "washed out" twice and he was put on heavy-duty antibiotics.

beer beer bong stupidity 0 Share

2004/11/15

Am I the only person who, upon seeing Sorry Everybody, was reminded of VICE Magazine's Donts page?

(And that goes fivefold for We're Not Sorry and its ilk; a finer collection of belligerent chest-beating yahoos you'll never see.)

culture war politics stupidity usa 3 Share

2004/11/1

Loud music can do more than damage your hearing; it can make your lungs collapse:

One man was driving when he experienced a pneumothorax, characterised by breathlessness and chest pain. Doctors linked it to a 1,000 watt "bass box" fitted to his car to boost the power of his stereo.
It is thought the intense pulses of low-frequency, high-energy sound causes the lung to rupture because air and tissue respond differently to sound. The usual risk factors for collapsed lungs are smoking, illness that has weakened the patient, chronic obstructive lung disease or use of drugs that depress alertness or consciousness, such as sedatives, barbiturates, tranquilizers, or alcohol.

(via darwin)

darwin health music stupidity 2 Share

2004/7/29

Stupidity of the day: a nightclub night, advertised on the front of a street paper from a few weeks ago, calling itself "Le Belle Donne". If they're going to act all sophisticated and Frenchified, it would help if they actually got the word genders right.

fail french language stupidity 1 Share

2004/6/16

Scientists have finally monetised the formerly un-monetisable, the benefits of a happy sexual relationship. According to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a healthy sex life is worth A$71,500 a year; or at least that's how much happier couples who have sex at least four times a month are than than those poor unfortunates who only get to do so once a month. Meanwhile, if you're a man, the more educated and intelligent you are, the less sex you have.

health sex society stupidity 1 Share

2004/6/15

Neural imaging technologies have shown that feelings of love lead to a suppression of activity in the areas of the brain controlling critical thought; in other words, love is blind. Or perhaps it just makes you stupid.

intelligence love neurology stupidity 0 Share

2004/5/16

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, those two purveyors of feelgood fare, now have a daughter, and her name is... Apple. Is there some kind of law that says that celebrities must give their children ridiculous names? Chances are, her school years will be a misery, unless her parents send her to schools exclusively for celebrity spawn. (I'm sure the Church of Scientology and other similarly charitable organisations run such schools in Hollywood, Notting Hill and other such places, so that all the Apples and Moon Units and Jets and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilies don't get the crap bullied out of them by more conventionally-named classmates.)

celebrity names society stupidity 2 Share

2004/5/14

This just in: virus writers' people skills often leave a lot to be desired:

And in perhaps the most blatant case of ego among virus writers, the virus writer Michael Buen from the Philippines put a copy of his CV in his virus. When the virus became active on a PC, it would automatically print out the CV which contained his real name, job history and contact details and threatening to unleash further viruses unless he was given a job.

Presumably they did enough fact-checking to determine that the virus was written by Mr. Buen, and wasn't a joe-job by someone who disliked him for whatever reason.

crime stupidity unclear on the concept viruses 0 Share

2004/4/20

The latest in the annals of user cluelessness: more than 70% of people surveyed would reveal their computer password for a bar of chocolate. Or perhaps give a stranger a bogus, non-working password for a very real bar of chocolate (after all, it's not like they'd check it first).

security social engineering stupidity 0 Share

2004/4/19

Recently, a few women decided to attend a 5,000-person LAN gaming party in Norway. When the geek boys at the party saw that there were actual chyxx attending, they decided to make the most of the unprecedented opportunity, by getting a camera and filming close-ups of their breasts and buttocks, apparently even following them into the showers, and, of course, ending up with a girl-free LAN party. Here's to terminal social ineptness. (via bOING bOING)

(The people who, upon seeing real live girls, decided to make a spontaneous LAN-party-tits'n'ass video (and I'll say that again: " LAN party tits'n'ass video"; that really speaks for itself) are probably the same types who complain on Slashdot about how they're so sexually frustrated because there are no girls around who are into Linux/Quake/Star Wars fandom and will admit it. Though, when you think about it, perhaps we're witnessing evolution in action?)

darwin geek stupidity 0 Share

2004/1/10

A US man is suing his cable TV company, on the grounds that they made him smoke and drink, caused his wife to gain weight and turned his children into "lazy channel surfers" by giving his household free cable. Timothy Dumouchel of West Bend, Wisconsin wants either US$5,000 or three computers and a lifetime supply of free internet service as compensation. It's reassuring to see that someone's taking charge of their life. (via Techdirt)

lawsuits personal responsibility stupidity tv usa wtf 0 Share

2003/11/25

A new Ku Klux Klan recruit has been critically wounded when a bullet fired into the air fell on his head, penetrating his skull. Champagne comedy, folks...

About 10 people, including two children, had gathered for the ceremony. The man who was being initiated was blindfolded, tied with a noose to a tree and shot with paintball guns as Freeman fired a pistol in the air to provide the sound of real gunfire, Sheriff Fred Phillips said.
Freeman fled the ceremony but was arrested near his home, authorities said. He was released on $7,500 bail.

Ah, those Klansmen. Every bit as brave as they are smart.

darwin ku klux klan stupidity 3 Share

2003/11/16

Saboteurs derail Melbourne-Ballarat train with parked car on track; meanwhile, the latest extreme sport among Melbourne's mooks is throwing rocks at trams.

melbourne mooks railway stupidity trams 9 Share

2003/10/17

Today's lesson is: when you commit identity theft, make sure the victim isn't a registered sex offender, as one James Perry (not known as Kibo, AFAIK) failed to do. (via bOING bOING)

(Btw, the website the story is on looks disturbing, like a cross between the National Enquirer and one of those "real life serial killers" books; the fact that there'd be a news portal all about sex offenders is in itself somewhat disturbing.)

crime identity theft stupidity 0 Share

2003/4/18

Blogger and former teenage role-player Rory weighs in on copy-protected pseudo-CDs comparing them to an anti-photocopying trick used by a RPG company in the 1980s:

But publishers in the early '80s saw the advent of cheap plain-paper photocopying as the End Times, and some of them took measures to prevent it. The most memorable was the Tangerine Game. It wasn't actually called the Tangerine Game; this was a game with a manual printed on tangerine-coloured paper. Which photocopies as a sheet of solid black. This masterstroke was, unfortunately, self-defeating. Tangerine paper is incredibly hard to read, and rules that can't be photocopied are hard to share with friendsthe same friends you want to play the game with. So we never bought or played the Tangerine Game, and now I can't even remember its name.

(via Graham)

copy protection role-playing stupidity 0 Share

2003/3/3

Remember those nice, idealistic young people who went to Iraq to be "human shields" (or "war tourists" as Salam so incisively called them) to protect the peace-loving Iraqi state from Yanqui imperialist aggression, and get put up in 5-star luxury for their trouble? Well, most of them just turned tail and fled when they realised that the Iraqi government wasn't so nice and was going to station them near military facilities rather than hospitals full of big-eyed orphans and such. Still, one could argue that they've managed to scam a holiday for free and get away with their lives; meanwhile, two have elected to stay behind, perhaps in the hope of winning a Darwin Award.)

(Perhaps they should send the local Spartacists/lunatic-fringe Marx/Maoists to replace them? They'd get a chance to selflessly protect the people's liberation government of Iraq from the capitalist imperialist running-dog aggressors, and the places they came from would get a bit more chlorine in their gene pools.)

darwin human shields stupidity war tourists 1 Share

2003/1/23

"watcht this bitch!" 21-year-old IRC user overdoses online, taking lots of drugs in front of his webcam, while his friends on IRC cheered him on. Suicide or just stupidity? (via MeFi)

darwin irc stupidity suicide webcam 4 Share

2002/12/3

A compedium of the stupid things people name their children, along with the parents' reasoning. Covers "unique" spellings (i.e., things like "Cydnee", "Dylon" and numerous bastardisations of "Mackenzie"), transpositions/omissions of letters ("Jayln"), random punctuation/capitalisation ("Cam'ron", "CrystalLynn") and various pseudo-African/Celtic/Sioux names. Not to mention rationales like "Brittany after the statue- Brittania", "Lorelei Jakarta (yes i know its an indonesian city but i think its exotic)", or "I think i'm going to name my son Kakinston ,, What do you think... ??". Or the people who were going to name their son Rebecca, just because they could. Or, indeed, the brain donor who was going to name their daughter Catatonia Calliope. (via Lukelog)

Reminds me of a theory I once heard that the uniqueness of names is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the parents, which was apparently supported by an ongoing survey of the births column of a local newspaper. (Presumably using some phrenological technique for determining intelligence from the photographs of the happy parents?)

culture names stupidity 5 Share

2002/11/28

Seemingly going for the Pauline Hanson demographic, disposable Australian celebrity Dannii Minogue (she's the less talented one, apparently) recently was quoted ranting about Asian immigration and liberal policies in a British men's magazine. "Even some of the street signs are in Asian!", she is quoted as having opined, before coming down on Blair for being soft on crime, blaming crime on foreigners, and stating that French right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen "struck a chord with people".

"She may have somewhat controversial political views but at least she has the defence of being Australian," he said.

There you have it; Australia is now seen as the new South Africa, that rough redneck cowboy state somewhere in the godforsaken Southern Hemisphere, where bigotry and narrow-mindedness are par for the course. If you're an Australian, people pretty much expect you to be racist, reactionary and xenophobic (and probably to scratch your arse in public and spit on the floor as well). Remember that next time you're in Europe, and give thanks to Pauline and Johnny.

australia culture dannii minogue racism stupidity 6 Share

2002/9/24

Soup, Cos' new community blog storytelling project, has an entry on overpasses as community noticeboards; i.e., the tendency for people to write birthday wishes, declarations of love, &c., on bridges and overpasses.

Many years ago, there was a graffito over Burwood Highway (I think it was on one of the Alamein line railway bridges), reading "I'LL ALWAYS MISS YOU EILEEN &heart; SD". I saw it many times when being driven to school, and imagined a tearful SD writing that before jumping to his death below. It occurred to me later that the bridge was nowhere near high enough to reliably commit suicide from, by when my mental image of SD was revised to lying with a broken leg in the middle of Burwood Highway at 3am, a bucket of paint spilled beside him, the pain distracting him from his broken heart, and the alcohol taking some of the edge off the pain.

One day I saw a piece in a community paper (I think it was out Ferntree Gully way), by a journalist who tracked down the real SD, who wrote his famous message one drunken night after Eileen left him, a decade or so earlier. Since then he had married another girl, bought a house in Boronia or Upwey or some place, and become a father. Every day he would commute to work down Burwood Highway and see his younger self's testament of undying love; sometimes, he said, he wanted to climb the bridge and paint over the silly thing once and for all.

culture eileen graffiti love melbourne sd stories stupidity 1 Share

2002/9/4

The Greek government just passed a law banning all electronic games, with heavy fines and prison sentences for possession of the forbidden devices. This law applies to everything from mobile phones with integrated games to DVDs with promotional game components, not to mention standard Windows installations, online chess games and so on; its purpose is to protect the virtuous Greek citizenry from the corrupting influence of online gambling, which the government has admitted to being unable to separate from other forms of games. (via Found)

greece neo-platonicism stupidity videogames 0 Share

2002/5/15

Too many hits from the bucket bong? An 18-year-old in Brisbane has appeared in court and been fined $300 for borrowing his housemate's credit card and going on a spending spree, buying among other things a mail-order penis enlarger and hotel accommodation on the Gold Coast. I'll bet he feels like a right idiot now.

brisbane crime stupidity wtf 1 Share

2001/10/19

I don't think that means what you think it means: Perhaps those stories about abysmal education standards in America are true; how else would one explain having named a street Anthrax Street? Apparently, the story goes, some low-ranking staffer suggested the name of his favourite heavy-metal band and the supervisor, not being into either heavy metal music or microbiology, approved it as it was "unique and different". Now the residents, having abruptly learned what 'anthrax' means, are none too pleased.

(I wonder whether they have had problems with teenage metalheads stealing their street signs; I recall hearing that the street sign for a Nirvana St. in Melbourne's inner south-east is the highest street sign in Melbourne; the local council made sure of that after replacing signs stolen by grunge fans in the early 1990s.)

anthrax metal names stupidity unfortunate 0 Share

2001/5/2

The Onion's in fine form today: Lowest Common Denominator Continues To Plummet:

In a Syracuse University study conducted last month, reruns of Happy Days, a show derided by 1970s critics as "targeted to third-graders," were deemed "beyond comprehension" by 75 percent of present-day third-graders. The surveyed students expressed frustration with the show's characters, some of which exhibited more than one trait. "Fonzie rides a motorcycle, but he also likes girls," one subject said. "I don't get it." The test group also took issue with Happy Days' "boring," non-fatal motorcycle crashes and confusing lack of gunplay and/or graphic nudity.

decline humour satire stupidity the onion 0 Share

2001/1/3

Life sucks, doesn't it? Well, it does if you're the poor shmuck known as DotComGuy. A year ago, he volunteered in a brave, noble experiment in the realms of human... um, OK, a daft publicity stunt. He changed his name to DotComGuy and endeavoured to spend the entire year 2000 confined to his home, interacting with the world only through the Internet; his valiant quest was sponsored by a number of Internet startups, who said they'd pay him US$100,000 if he successfully completed his quest. A year later, he's flat broke, not to mention horribly out of shape from subsisting on ordered-in pizza and saddled with an embarrassingly stupid legal name, Meanwhile, his sponsors have been wiped out by the dot-com bust, so it doesn't look like he'll be seeing that $100K. But not everything is hopeless for our hero; he is reportedly happily in love, and about to get married -- to a woman he has never seen in real life.

dotcomguy stupidity 0 Share

2000/10/11

Slashdot is running a stupid patent contest. All you need to do to enter is come up with something blindingly obvious, the dafter the better, and write it up in the form of a patent application.

patents stupidity 0 Share

2000/8/1

If professional wrestling is fake, what about amateur wrestling? The latest trend among bored teenage boys in the US is amateur pro wrestling, done in suburban backyards by outfits with names like Xtreme Championship Wrestling, and imitating the carefully choreographed moves of pro wrestling. Not surprisingly, many of the participants end up injured. (via Leviathan)

darwin machismo redneck stupidity testosterone wrestling 0 Share

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