Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Look out, the world's behind you!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 1

If I was into drinking games and took a swig every time a CTU agent asked to be "patched through" to someone in the TV series, 24, I'd be velly, velly dlunk.

Another good trigger would be the occurrence of dodgy logic arising out of a complete lack of understanding of what goes on beyond US borders.

Here's a great example from series 2, episode 6...

Tony: "You're doing business with a known terrorist [actually he wasn't, though his fiance was] and you're going to sit there and tell me with a straight face you don't know what's going on?"

Reza: "I grew up in London. I'm marrying an American girl, a protestant. So, if you're going to racially profile me, you should at least get it right."

Tony: "You ever hear of the Finsbury Park Mosque? It's considered one of the main recruitment centers for Islamic terrorists in the West [don't know about 'main', otherwise this is true]. Our main targets are European Muslims with Western educations, passports and the potential to blend into Western society. And do you know where that mosque is located? Your hometown, London. So tell me, Reza, how's my racial profiling going now?"

Reza: "I want a lawyer."

Tony: "No."

So to qualify as a terrorist these days you just have to live in a city where known terrorists gather to conspire? Of course London is so minuscule everyone lives under the same roof and is on first name terms with the Queen's Corgies. I wonder if this scene raised any eyebrows amongst US audiences. I hope so.

Actually London covers an area of 609 square miles and has a population in the region of 7.5 million. That's a hell of a lot of terrorists! Maybe we should be gearing up to nuke the place in the interests of public safety.

Incidentally, the Finsbury Park Mosque line was cut from the UK version of the episode - if the Imam had spotted it he would probably have threatened to set Allah (pox be upon him) on Tony.

Firefox, patch me through to my post button. Go, go, go!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Faunal ponderings

Monday, July 17, 2006 2

I've been giving serious consideration to bat poo.

Gingerly entering the Twilight Zone bat cave at Chester Zoo my first thought was, how am I going to survive this experience without getting plastered with bat guano? (the collective, scientific term for the droppings of seabirds and bats). I wasn't so much concerned that bat droppings make excellent gunpowder - I'd lived through the Manchester bombing after all. I just didn't want to get any in my hair.

Once my eyes had acclimatised to the dark I scanned the walkways for evidence of aerial bombardment of the faecal kind, and found none. That's interesting, I thought; I know from watching nature documentaries that bats are known to do their business mid-flight as well as when roosting. In light of our hypersensitive compensation culture I reasoned that people wouldn't be allowed to wander about in this environment without the protection of a helmet. Therefore until someone can prove otherwise I'm going to make the logical leap that these bats are trained to only fire when circling above peopleless woodland areas. Any stray payloads are likely genetically analysed and paired with the offending bat, who would then be punished by way of withholding fruit and other privileges like watching old Batfink re-runs on TV.

Milling around the rhino enclosures I was struck by another conundrum. There aren't any Vietnamese Javan rhinos at Chester Zoo, but they do make reference to them on the information panels dotted around the viewing area. One fact bite said there were "only 2-7 Vietnamese Javan rhinos left in the world". Two to seven. Just think, a single drunk safari tourist in a jeep could wipe the entire species off the face of the planet! This is shocking and depressing in itself of course, but why be so vague about the population count when it can be totted up on two hands? It can't be that they are dispersed throughout the country, roaming the wilderness in difficult to reach, unmonitored areas because I know they are all located in the same habitat, the Cat Tien National Park.

Wouldn't you think if there were so few remaining members of a species in existence they would be known individually by pet name, electronically tagged and guarded round the clock by an elite squad of Green Peace, animal-defense guerrillas? At the very least they should be allowed to unwind in lavish palaces, freely partake in on-tap beer and assorted delicatessen and have their every whim satisfied by a team of doting soubrettes. While they were reposing I'd expect a throng of gynaecologists to be feverishly instructing their sperm in all the best fallopian tube navigation/ovum penetration techniques to improve their chances of procreation.

Find out what you can do to help at the International Rhino Foundation web site.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The food industry is contaminating our cyanide!

Monday, July 10, 2006 1

I can understand people getting upset about food manufacturers foisting noxious additives and preservatives upon consumers through the consumption of supposedly healthy products, but this is bordering on farce.

Here in the UK we're about to embark on a major trans-fat crackdown. Trans-fat is man-made gunk produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil (a process known as hydrogenation). It's added to a vast range of food to prolong its shelf-life and stabilise flavour; a home run for the food industry, but certainly not for your arteries, heart or waistline.

So to stay fit and healthy you'll be anxious to know which back doors these sneaky trans-fats are breaching so you can nail them shut, right? Are supermarkets injecting the stuff into celery and carrots after the witching hour to evade detection? Nope. Get this. They're found principally in all the products you'd expect to make you obese when consumed to excess, namely fast food, chocolate bars, cookies, creamy gateauxs and so on.

On which planet is it rational to wolf down a Triple Heart-Decimator Burger with a jumbo side serving of Artery-Annihilating Fries from McLardy's and then get your knickers in a knot because your diet contains fat E as well as fats A, B, C and D?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Recovering 'lost' or 'forgotten' Windows passwords

Thursday, July 06, 2006 0

Give me a second to catch my breath...

...

Much obliged. Here I am sprawled out before a computer quivering from a mixture of exertion and trepidation. Sporting my Milk Tray, all-black, covert ops gear - with the aid of a set of ankle and wrist suction cups - I've just scaled the dizzying pinnacle of an office block, delicately scored and removed a section of glass and sneaked inside.

Still clamped between my teeth is a CD; it's an 'Ophcrack Live CD', "the fastest Windows password cracker". As I remove it from the opaque, foil-sealed packaging, the angel-devil tag team perched on my shoulders begin to quarrel over the pros and cons of inserting it into my office computer's CD drive to 'recover' the administrative password.

Not being privy to this information is seriously hampering my ability to perform all sorts of trivial operations such as installing the driver for my new printer and the Java plugin for Firefox. I'd be embarrassed to call tech support and have them traipse all the way over here just to enter the admin password. Besides, I'm sure they have more pressing matters to attend to... like watching rapping chimps on YouTube.

Actually, that's only half the battle. On several occasions I've bumped into one of the techies who happened to already be over here on an unrelated mission and asked them to do the honours, leaving them to get on with it while I'm away. When I got back, nothing had changed so I presume they were inadvertently distracted by a YouTubian limbo-dancing giraffe.

So you see my predicament. Do I keep on badgering the techies every time I need a 'i' dotting or a 't' crossing, or throw caution to the wind, run the Ophcrack Live CD and risk being lynched by the IT department's elite SWAT team?

That looked suspiciously like REM transpiring between the gap in my blinds. I'm outta here...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The shocking truth about Fox News

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 1

I've always assumed Fox News is a cunning and deeply ironic satire of the Russian revolution - in particular the plague of chronic propaganda which seized the Soviet Union during this era.

Watching the documentary, Outfoxed has convinced me otherwise. Apparently Rupert Murdoch's 24 hours a day current affairs station is a genuine attempt at serious news broadcasting. Who'd have thunk it?

I doubt very much I'm the first person to have jumped to this seemingly logical conclusion. Bill O'Reilly parrots the mantras 'Fair and Balanced' and 'We Report, You Decide' so frequently and with such stony-faced conviction that you can only assume he's an actor playing the part of a Goebbels-esque caricature. How was I to know that ordering his prey - I mean guests - to 'shut up' and cutting their mics whenever they began to rattle his prejudiced, narrow-minded little world view wasn't all part of the pantomime?

In the light of this expose, clearly I'm going to need to revise my theory. As shocking as this sounds, could it be that Fox's function is to act as a shameless vehicle for republican disinformation? If that's the case I can only guess that Bill and his cronies are having a laugh at the expense of their oblivious audience. Why else would they ram the bare-faced lie 'fair and balanced' down their throats at every opportunity and in the same breath proclaim that everything is honky-dory in Iraq and George Bush will keep them safe from the bogeyman?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Up RIAA Creek? $19 may buy you a Paddle of Impunity (TM)

Monday, July 03, 2006 0

According to a recent Boing Boing post a pioneering new all-you-can-eat music buffet download subscription service is now available to anyone lucky enough to live in Sweden.

For a paltry $19 a year you are given free reign to chomp your way through as much copyright protected music as your paunch will accommodate safe in the knowledge that 'Tankafritt' will pick up the tab should you be sued by the RIAA.

That was the gist of the spokesperson's press junket wasn't it? :|

Sounds like a real steal (ho ho) to me, until casual file sharing is declared a crime punishable by jail time that is. Under these circumstances maybe Tankafritt will also supply a doppelganger to break rocks on your behalf.

 
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