Thursday, February 28, 2002

Genetic screening has been used to cull a form of Alzheimer's from a family line in America. This is the kind of technology news that has me alternating between elation and foreboding.

On the one hand, these scientists have taken the first step towards eradicating a terrible genetic disease from the family, and this makes me happy. This screening could remove all traces of Alzheimer's in a generation or two if it becomes common. This makes me happy.

But on the other hand there are all the issues about intolerance, designer babies and of course the danger of someone breeding a race of supermen. I've seen Gattaca and I've read Spares. This side of the coin worries me.

All in all, I suspect the answer is that whatever can be done will be done, and there's not much anyone can do to stop it. I also found myself wondering why, if the screened child was born almost 17 months ago, are we reading about it now? Has the good doctor decided it's time to start drumming up some serious business?
posted by Mark 2:00 AM

According to this article in The Washington Times the American government is no longer standing by a 24-year-old U.S. pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

Washington is "not looking for occasions to use" its nuclear arsenal, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in an interview. But "we would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population," he said.

So now not only have they given themselves the right to interfere anywhere in the world that they see as being against their interests, they have decided it's actually okay to nuke anybody they think threatens their civilian population.

Great, thats just what we need, thanks guys, especially coming just as US military advisors and Special Forces are arriving in Georgia (formerly part of the USSR) despite the Russian government being "deeply unhappy" about their prescence. Oh, and Bush is meeting with Blair soon to discussmilitary action against Iraq.

Am I the only one who is getting an increasingly bad feeling from all this?
posted by Mark 1:17 AM

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

I know I've been a bit quiet on the linking front for a few days, but I was busy. I made another picture that I actually like! You can get a look at it here.

We will be returning to normal service shortly.
posted by Mark 4:12 PM

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Web 'turns people into goldfish'

posted by Mark 2:10 AM

Thursday, February 21, 2002

The two new Tom Waits CD's that were due to be released on Aril 9th have been delayed until May 7th. It also appears that one of them has been renamed - "Red Drum" has resurfaced as "Blood Money". Still, as a consolation for making us wait longer to hear the new stuff, the new cover art has been posted to the record company website, including some nice high-resolution versions.

I must be honest, I really like both of the designs but I think the "Alice" cover is fantastic. Hop on over, see what you think.

If you have read this far and are wondering who on earth this Tom Waits chap is, you might want to have a look at his official site, where there is plenty of information and pictures - even the lyrics to all his songs (and there are quite a few).
posted by Mark 12:39 AM

It's probably been there for ages, but I only found the Google News Headlines page tonight. As a simple collection of top headlines from around the world, this is a fine site. It reminds me of NewsNow, but not as comprehensive or detailed. This is actually not a bad thing, because it makes it a somewhat less bewildering task to keep up with the main headlines from around the world.

And while we are on the subject of news collection websites, another favourite of mine is Unknown News "The news you need, whether you know it or not". This is a huge selection of stories from all over the world that you almost certainly won't see on the TV. Absolutely fascinating to read, but I'm not a big fan of the busy page layout.
posted by Mark 12:21 AM

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Finally! The new layout is up and running. If you have any comments on the new look or are having problems with it in a particular browser, email me. I'd love to hear from you (well, unless it's a problem or you are selling something).
posted by Mark 12:06 AM

Sunday, February 17, 2002

If you are planning a holiday this year (and I know many of you are) then you might want to look up your destination in the World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems and find out just what you can get away with...or at least what kind of court you'll be arguing against when you get caught. Oh, and remember - don't take pictures of any aeroplanes you see, just in case.
posted by Mark 3:45 AM

I'm not sure what exactly would inspire such oddness, but this guy is a lovely little mover in his own way.

Note: This link doesn't work in Opera, seems to be designed for Internet Explorer. Ho Hum.
posted by Mark 3:22 AM

Now here is a concept I can't get enough of - men in skirts.
posted by Mark 3:14 AM

Jorge Luis Borges is one of my A-List writers, his work amazes me. The Book of Sand is an intriguing presentation of one of his lesser-known stories, the site is "a hypertext, with a nonlinear structure and dynamic images. This story is well-suited for such a presentation, since it deals with a supernatural book whose many pages are in no discernible order." It even comes in the form of a puzzle - you can try and work out which order the story was originally written in.

If you are inspired by this site to learn more about the man or his work, you could do a lot worse than to start at The Garden of Forking Paths.
posted by Mark 3:11 AM

Fancy a beer? How about 820 beers in 76 countries?
posted by Mark 2:50 AM

Ordinarily I have a great deal of respect for the privacy of others, but when they are fictional characters I reckon I'm safe enough rooting through their stuff. Here is a collection of the secret diaries of characters in Lord of the Rings. These probably won't mean a lot if you haven't read the books, but they kept me amused for ages. Well, half an hour anyway.
posted by Mark 2:35 AM

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Microsoft are at it again - if you use Internet Explorer version 5.01 or greater you need to download yet another security-hole-fixer-upper.

The "11 February 2002 Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer" update eliminates all known security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer 6, as well as six new vulnerabilities, and is discussed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-005. Download now to protect your computer from these vulnerabilities, the most serious of which could allow an attacker to run code on your computer.

The detailed information is here and you have to go here to download the patch. Go do it now, if you haven't already.
posted by Mark 5:22 PM

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Here we have an interesting alternative to the Ten Commandments...The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth
posted by Mark 4:21 PM

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Anyone who has ever worked with or known a hacker will no doubt appreciate the information in The Hacker FAQ, which manages to not only be an entertaining read (well, it made me chuckle) but seems to me to be pretty much on the money with the advice it gives. It is "an attempt to cover some of the issues that will invariably come up when people without previous experience of the hacker community try to hire a hacker...
DISCLAIMER: The author is a hacker. Bias is inevitable."
posted by Mark 11:13 AM

12 pieces of chicken (thighs and drumsticks), 2 double-meat cheeseburgers on toasted buns, 1 large place of brown french fries with ketchup, 2 large onions (cut in slices), 2 large tomatoes (cut in slices), 6 sweet pickles, salad dressing, 5 sliced jalapeno peppers, peach cobbler with extra crust, and milk.*

This is a spooky one - the Texas Department of Justice makes available a list of Final Meal Requests from the prisoners they have executed. That's two hundred and sixty people since 1982. The list makes for strange reading indeed, and my personal favourite was Odell Barnes Jr.'s request for "Justice, Equality, World Peace" as his final repast.

* The final meal requested may not reflect the actual final meal served.
posted by Mark 1:28 AM

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Here is a final mad gadget before I go to get some sleep - an revolutionary new haircutting system. Let the manufacturers tell you about it themselves (I know I'm doing a lot of quoting tonight, but I couldn't write anything quite as disturbing as the real thing). . .

"Using the suction power of your vacuum cleaner, the FLOWBEE draws the hair evenly into the recessed blades and cuts it precisely. The results should be a refreshing haircut."

Did you notice the reference to your vacuum cleaner? They want you to attach blades to your hoover and run it over your head! Especially as "the Flowbee is so neat and efficient that you can give yourself a trim just minutes before a party or that important business meeting". What a brilliant idea! I shall purchase one immediately and hoover my head before I go out each day.
posted by Mark 4:57 AM

And I quote:

"Just recently Sister Ann uncovered satan's demonic plot to convert all followers of Christ by injecting his evil seeds into the world's supply of chicken picante. Oh Merciful! Fortunately, because of Sister Ann's international campaign against chicken picante, hundreds of souls are saved each day from the terrors of satan's tainted meat. (Amen!)"

Had I not seen this site, it never would have occurred to me that Satan might have an Official Food. He'll be sponsoring the Olympics next...
posted by Mark 4:39 AM

Singing Science Records - every home should have a set. Marvellous fun!
posted by Mark 4:17 AM

Those clever chaps at NASA have come up with a neat device that attacks and destroys airborne pathogens -- like Anthrax. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ... a patent application and ending in a fat government contract. Anti-corporate paranoia aside, this is a great gadget that could help save lives - but isn't it a shame we should need such a thing in the first place?
posted by Mark 4:14 AM

Does anyone remember Roger The Dodger from the Beano comics? He was the kid who had the dodges and excuses for every occasion, whole books full of them. I strongly suspect that when Roger grew up he founded The Alibi Agency. The aim of this service is "total peace of mind for you and your family" which they achieve by helping you (in return for a not inconsiderable amount of money) to lie, cheat and screw around behind their backs without getting caught. They will even organise phony convention invitations, the hotel room for you to do it in, and a fake receptionist to answer calls from your spouse and convince her you are where you should be. Surely peace of mind is far more likely to come from not having done anything to feel guilty about in the first place? The things people will do for money often astonish me.
posted by Mark 4:04 AM

"Remember that all I am offering is the truth. Nothing more."

So says David Icke - I wouldn't dream of making such an absurd claim for myself. The truth according to Mr. Icke is that the world is being run by an ancient race of shape-shifting lizards disguised as humans. Among their number are "the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, the British royal family, and the ruling political and economic families of the US and the rest of the world".

"David is available to speak at your conference or public event, but you need to hurry because David's schedule is filling up fast" and "his profusely illustrated presentations take a minimum of three hours and can be as long as a day or even two." I wonder if he'd turn up to collect his handsome Wasted Times Nutter of The Week Award? We had best put him last in the running order for the ceremony - sounds like the acceptance speech could be a humdinger.
posted by Mark 3:40 AM

It had to happen eventually I suppose. It was only ever a matter of time until someone realised the huge potential of Geek Pornography, and of course the internet is the perfect place to put it. You should take a look at the Galleries there - they even have a picture of my old girlfriend.
posted by Mark 2:42 AM

It's been a while, but I think I can remember how to do this...

The SiMiCon RotorCraft is another strange aircraft that looks like an interesting crossbreed between a helicopter and the Starship Enterprise. No, really, it does. The basic design idea sounds interesting, but I'm not convinced retractable rotors will be easy to implement. Still, maybe in 5 years time we'll all be zipping around the skies in one. I want mine to have lots of flashing lights, and a button that plays the tune from Close Encounters extraordinarily loud. And a CD player.
posted by Mark 2:28 AM