Tastes Like Chicken

Saturday, January 06, 2001
_Fox TV setting new standards in responsible broadcasting
In the upcoming "Temptation Island" program "Four committed — but unmarried — couples are sent to a steamy, tropical island for two weeks. They are separated, and each of the eight people go on dates with up to three seductive members of the opposite sex. While 'dating' their new friends, the individuals are not allowed to see or speak with their mates."

My friend Robby's take on it: "I like Fox's proposal for next year: A show called "Back On The Horse" in which they lock reformed addicts in a room with copious amounts of drugs. The longer they go without shooting up, the more cash and prizes they win! Fun and educational for the whole family. Special guest for sweeps: Robert Downey Jr."

That is the starting assumption of the coming generation of copy prevention technologies that consumers will be forced to pay for. The particularly galling thing about this is that these technologies make consumer goods more complex, more expensive, and less useful. Televisions and computer hard drives and stereos are all the object of entertainment industry drives to embed copy prevention technologies into the very lowest level of their operation. The purpose of these campaigns are to rob the owners of these devices of control over them. Why? Because you can't be trusted, you criminal. The new systems would give movie studios and record companies the power prevent you from performing activities that are now legally protected and a part of the day to day lives we already lead.

You buy an album, you tire of it, you sell at a garage sale. Not anymore. The new systems prevent the sale of stuff you already paid for.

You record a show off TV and watch it at dinner the next day. Not any more. The new systems let the broadcasters prevent any copying of the programs for any purpose, despite the fact that the "1984 Sony Betamax case gave home recorders the right under fair use rules to tape what they wanted for their personal use."

You install a program on your computer. The hard drive later crashes and you have to reinstall on a new one. Not so fast, now you face the prospect of repurchasing the programs, even if you do have all the original materials.

Welcome to the digital dark age.

_Dot-com Employee Laid Off Without Knowing It
"Apparently, it's a new management style: Don't tell your employees they're fired, and ignore them until they go away." The woman at the focus of the article was treated shabbily, and both the article and comments from another employee indicate that this was par for the course at that outfit.

Getting laid off is no fun. I went through that wringer twice inside of three months. Both were dot.coms, but there was a night and day difference in how they treated their people. One gave 4 weeks of severance, paid for unused vacation, extended health coverage for two and a half months and made company resources available to the ex-employees. Hell, they gave us our office chairs! The other are a bunch of lying bastards who broke promises, offered no severance, lied about a reserve of resources for an orderly shutdown, screwed dozens of employees out of back pay, including tens of thousands of dollars owed to me personally. But at least they still got to on a tour of Tibet after shit-canning everyone's jobs (after all, you've got to have priorities, you know).

Related nuggets from Slashdot postings:
Getting fired from Atomfilms.com and
Good karma: the story of a company kicking a blind woman to the curb

_Personalized Action Figures
"AndGor Toy Company can make YOU into the Action Figure of your choice, wearing whatever you want from casual clothes to formal wear, authentic military gear, football uniform, and more!" It sounds super cheeseball, but it actually looks pretty damn good. I can only see this as a gag gift (kind of like getting lead lined underwear to go with your Thunderwear), especially since it looks like having a customized and dressed figure could run you most of $100.

_Merriam-Webster OnLine
Seachable Merriam-Webster dictionary, with fuzzy matches on spelling, links for synonyms, related words, etc. A top notch web resource. I use it several times a week to avoid looking stupid. Well, I'm working on it.

_Roman Life, A.D. 1
A strong article about how life was lived in Rome two millennia ago. It meanders a bit at the end, but the opening and middle sections are solid.

Friday, January 05, 2001
_Spanking arcade game
This is a scan of an industry ad for an arcade game played by spanking a fake butt on the machine. Not a joke, as far as I can tell.

_David has been living in his parents' bathroom now for more than two years
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder writ large. Some of my friends have told me about OCD problems of their own, but this is way beyond.

_Frigits--cooler than magnetic poetry
Imagine all the neat bits from the Mousetrap game redone as a bunch of refrigerator magnet toys.

I had a girlfriend a while back that thought the best present I ever gave her was a set of Legos, because when she was a kid her parents wouldn't let her play with them, Legos being for boys and all.

_"Break a leg" - Kiwi soldiers fight for the 'Ring
Over-zealous extras for the upcoming Lord of the Rings movies are suffering for their art. "[T]he armour-clad, rubber sword-wielding soldiers went at it so hard that nine went to hospital with broken arms. Several more sported broken noses, twisted ankles and cuts."

_Quantum Ravioli
A physicist describes what would happen to a can of ravioli hitting a big chunk of metal at various speeds approaching the speed of light. Heh, good stuff.

_Xbox Pictures
Three (expandable) pictures of Microsofts's unreleased Xbox video game console. 4 controller ports, built in ethernet connection, snot-green blobs on the console and controllers. The console looks a bit large, bigger than the Dreamcast, anyway.

I'm not a fan of it's exterior, but I'm optimistic regarding the machine in general.

I was supposed to get a chance to play with a PS2 this weekend but now it's hard to tell...

_I was a Negro in the South for 30 Days
Well, not me personally, but this looks like a fascinating read (I'm only through the first two parts so far) about a white man's experiences posing as a black man in the segregated south of the late 1940's.

"I quit being white, and free, and an American citizen when I climbed aboard that Jim Crow coach. . . . From then on, until I came up out of the South four weeks later, I was black, and in bondage — not quite slavery but not quite freedom, either.’’

_Is Apple getting soft?
"...the company has decided to try to remake its image into a purveyor of "killer apps," or groundbreaking software programs that computer users can't live without. The corporate refocus comes with an concession from Apple's management that Apple can no longer fight the Wintel giant--the powerful combination of the Windows operating system and Intel's microprocesser--on the hardware front alone, say people who have met with Jobs and other top executives recently."

I value Apple only as a gadfly to the rest of the computing industry (sorry, I can't call them competition anymore). But even recognizing that I as a PC user have benefitted from Apple's existence, it gives me great pleasure to watch the smug get their just desserts.

_Find here three things: articles too well written to miss, stuff you wish you knew, and resources you wish you knew about.

Watch out.