Archive for September, 2004

Animal behaviour

Two things prevent this otherwise brilliant Japanese product line from being the perfect non-pharmaceutical pick-me-up for a grey Wednesday involving a Presidential candidate “debate”.

happy japanese animal computers

  1. See bottom right of image. Nooooo.

  2. There’s one obvious animal that’s missing there. Is this connected with point 1 by any chance? It’s all a conspiracy.

My mother and sister are flying in today in any case and I am meeting them, which will prevent me from accidentally watching tonight’s farce and being forced to repeatedly shout “cunt” at the TV whilst knocking back booze. The possibility remains that I might catch a glimpse of it on a TV while I am out, but I will carry a handkerchief with me and clamp it over my mouth if that happens. With a hankie over your mouth, shouting “cunt” sounds a bit like a sneeze. Probably.

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Vote Kerry or burn in hell

Vote Kerry or burn in hell

The entirely bipartisan Philadelphia Weekly makes an unexpected endorsement. And they normally love Mr Bush so.

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Eye phone photos

I had an idea that I could get a collective of people to all take photos of their own eyes with cameraphones, or normal cameras if they prefer though they’ll have to be resized, and then set the wallpaper on their phones to a picture of someone else’s eye. (See this Flickr photo for an example.) It’s a peculiar sensation looking at an eye every time you look at your phone, and I think it would be even more peculiar looking at someone else’s eye. I haven’t looked really thought about any artistic implications or subtexts or whatever – I can do all that later.

Would anyone be interested in doing that? Is it too odd? Are your phones all too primitive? Comment.

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Very important things

The latest version of ecto, which I downloaded recently and didn’t realise was available, deals with the time issues that I’ve been having posting from a different time zone to the one that my server is located. At least it seems to. So that’s okay then.

I’m getting confused as to how I should be bookmarking stuff. I read an awful lot of crap, and I bookmark it

  1. using proper browser bookmarks – rare, because I change browsers all the time and want to bookmark stuff at work and access it at home too;
  2. with hyperlinkomatic, which is great for bookmarks that I may want to access later as it has good category and search systems;
  3. by blogging them onto my Happy Link Log, which is better if I want to show them off to people;
  4. by putting them in this main blog if I have some deep and meaningful statement to make about them (“these are great penguins”).

Now I’m looking at as well. This is too many bookmarking things. There must be consolidation of this. I don’t know how that can be achieved. Argh.

Several books arrived; some Lemony Snicket, Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig, The New Pearl Harbour by David Ray Griffin and Seymour Hersh’s new book, Chain Of Command, just for a bit of light cheerful reading.

It’s been raining like a bastard here, a really horrible bastard who sticks kittens on toasting forks and spits at your mum. The train may be flooded out tomorrow, though I expect it will just be late and slow.

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Japanese hygienic penguin dance

toilet with penguins

There’s been a distinct lack of penguin-related programme activity on this blog recently and I would like to remedy that with this Japanese home appliances and/or bathroom thing page.

bath and lady with penguins

If you scroll down to about halfway you will see an advert for something called a Toto Washlet Apricot, which seems to be some sort of penguin-removable toilet hygiene device. Below that there is something to do with a bath involving penguins being in it, something to do with a stove involving penguins sliding on it, and then some penguins dancing in front of a medicine cabinet and falling over. There are videos for all of these.

I think this is a pretty good penguin find (I didn’t find it myself, I got it via Boing Boing, but hey) and even though it doesn’t entirely make up for the recent penguin deficit I feel it goes some way towards that goal.

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Sleep not important


My sleep patterns have entirely gone to shit. This morning I was lying in bed at 5.45am (maybe 6am, the luminous dial on my watch wasn’t working very well, I think the little jellyfish are tired) listening to the usual morning chorus of bin people smashing dinner plates, and produly thinking “Hah, I’ve outsmarted you! You can’t wake me up, I’m already awake!” before realising how ridiculous that was. A shame, really, I was quite pleased for a bit there.

I also woke up a couple more times during the night, I can’t remember exactly how many or when. I now feel… odd, and tired in a spacey “3am changing flights at Reykjavik Airport” way. My back hurts too.

Things I do not give a toss about this morning:

  • hunting bans and protests, just fucking ban it and get it over with, though I am irritated that the CA wankers seem to be able to get away with almost anything (any smelly anti-war anarchists going anywhere near the Labour conference with a dead horse would have had the crap beaten out of them and been charged with possessing biological warfare devices)
  • un-supersizing chocolate bars
  • any sort of poll, apart maybe from this one and this one, which are likely to be bullshit anyway. Forget the bloody election polls. They’re only done to fill space and airtime.

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Today’s thoughts

  • Currently recording the new Hitchhiker’s Guide from the Radio 4 website, using Audio Hijack, which I shall be converting to MP3 for iPodification. I knew the record version of the HHG pretty much off by heart; it wasn’t the same as the radio series.

  • Have been importing about five gigs of video of whale watching in Boston – well, not actually in Boston, off the coast. I’ve been worrying that there was no real point in me spending too much money on this powerbook, apart from it looking cool and having a nice big screen, but video editing and processing really is an awful lot easier on a nice fast optimised machine. However, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with all this whale footage… or rather, a few minutes of whale footage, and a lot of pictures of seagulls and people’s wooly hats.

  • Bought a copy of The Missing Sync, because I hate Palm Desktop and they’re not updating it for the Mac any more anyway. It also allows me to buy a Clié if I want to. Well, I could I always buy one, I just wouldn’t have been able to use it. However, my old Tungsten T is still barfing occasionally when I try to sync, which is irritating and probably has something to do with the keyboard driver, or sunspots. The whole thing needs wiping and reinstalling to be honest.

  • Also finally remembered the name of the Sims-alike Palm game that I played for a long time a year or so ago – Dejobaan Bebop. This got removed when my Tungsten died, I think, but now I can start it again.

  • I’ve been playing more Animal Crossing. Do you want to see my house?

  • I’m leaving this country in about a month. Fuck. Argh.

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Top-down media

Snopes article:

Claim: Procter & Gamble supports the overturning of a Cincinnati charter amendment that prohibits the City Council from enacting any protections specifically aimed at gays and lesbians.

Status: True.

I have Snopes’ RSS feed on my Bloglines list and I’ve noticed an increasing number of articles appearing relating to what is transparently right-wing email activism. Today I also read this one:

Claim: The Communist Party USA is endorsing John Kerry for President.

Status: Multiple see below.

To summarise, the CPUSA wants to get rid of Bush, thinks Kerry has the best chance of doing so, and isn’t fielding a candidate of their own. The email this is in response to is designed to imply that Kerry is a Communist, along the lines of the nonsensical “Kerry Is More Liberal Than Ted Kennedy” stuff talking points that have come out of the RNC (working on the infantile fiction that there is some sort of sliding scale from “conservative” to “liberal” as well as simple logical flaws of association, and if Kerry was more “liberal” by most definitions I’d probably like him more). So it doesn’t really mean anything – what, the CPUSA was going to endorse Bush?

I’m not going to rant about the Procter & Gamble email either – what’s the point? It’s sent by the American Family Association which is the sort of no-fun Christian bigot club that makes foreigners laugh at the USA. Of course they’re going to think pandering to the Homosexual Agenda is bad. We know these people exist; displays of shock and outrage on some guy’s blog aren’t going to change that.

The point I’m trying to make is one that I’ve heard fairly often, that the American right seems to be making far more use of this sort of grass-roots campaign. Of course they’re not really “grass-roots”; that implies that they originate from the bottom, whereas they’re distributed from above. That just makes them more effective, though, because the message can be distributed across all levels. Take something like “flip-flop”, one of the more effective recent attacks. It starts with Bush and co making speeches claiming that Kerry changes his mind and is undecisive. It filters down via odious right-wing pundits who repeat the message until it hits the email and discussion board circuit – I’m a little out of touch with that, but I’m sure there are hundreds of forwards and posts out there with “Kerry’s Top Ten Flip-Flops”. These can be entirely bogus or irrelevant, particularly in comparison with Bush, but that doesn’t matter. The point is the universal presence which pushes the idea into the agenda, so that his supporters feel the need to defend him against this charge. Same with a whole load of other things you could mention – the Swift Boat nonsense comes to mind.

» Continue reading “Top-down media”

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Greed and inevitability

I’d like to post something that I just wrote regarding the Seymour Hersh quote that I referred to on Tuesday.

It’s always been a point of faith that there were perfectly understandable (if disgraceful) motives of profit behind the war – if only to keep myself from thinking that the US was run by a bunch of people far more fanatic than Saddam, who was hardly the “madman” that he was continuously called in the lead-in to the invasion.

When Seymour Hersh says it though, a man who has far more experience and access to sources connected to and within the administration than I will ever have, I have to wonder.

I don’t think what he says contradicts the idea that the given reasons for war were all bogus – they clearly were, their continual change rather bears that out. I don’t think there’s an absence of a profit motive either. My current opinion is that the motivations rest on a certain degree of naked greed and power-lust, and a certain degree of ideological certainty that “democracy” (a friendly business environment where American corporations can flourish, as is their rightful due) could be brought about far more easily than appears to be the case at the moment. Because it’s historically inevitable, isn’t it? We have now reached the End Of History. We’ve now achieved the perfect form of society, and it’s just a question of convincing everyone else of that. Common theme of the last couple of decades; you’re considered a crazy radical for questioning it.

These two are not separate any more than the economic benefits of slavery and the belief in the superiority of the white race were, but they’re Hersh disturbs me by suggesting that that latter aspect might be a lot more dominant than I thought. I’m not just taking his word for it but it’s a piece of evidence I shall take into account.

I ordered his new book, incidentally, because I felt I wasn’t depressed enough by the news and really needed some new, horrific details of things done by the US military. Should arrive next week.

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Juan Cole on the election

Informed Comment : 09/01/2004 – 09/30/2004

I have a sinking feeling that the American public may like Bush’s cynical misuse of Wilsonian idealism precisely because it covers the embarrassment of their having gone to war, killed perhaps 25,000 people, and made a perfect mess of the Persian Gulf region, all out of a kind of paranoia fed by dirty tricks and bad intelligence. And, maybe they have to vote for Bush to cover the embarrassment of having elected him in the first place.

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