Cute Baby Lemur

I'm downright chipper today. I have a weekend of festive excesses planned that will whisk me away from work early. To appease my coworkers I've brought in mince pies and it worked! Hooray for the magic of spiced fruit.

Have a baby lemur:

From Last Refuge


Seagate buys Maxtor? Ugghhhhhhhhh

Oh dear. I'm not sure how I feel about Seagate buying Maxtor (via Techzap.) Purely anecdotal ranting? I have about 56 Seagate harddisks and about 15 Maxtor Diamonds. Out of the 56 Seagate disks I've lost 2 and have replaced them with Seagates or Hitachis. (Whatever is close to the spec and in stock.) The 15 Maxtors? They are younger than the Seagates by 6 months but out of the 15 I've lost 6. All of them with bad blocks. Don't get me wrong, the Maxtor diagnostic program is fantastic at fixing what it can but when these things die, they fucking die. The thing that really makes me hate Maxtors is the 1 year warranty as well. Not only do the shoddy things die after 18 months but you can't return them to Maxtor... you have to purchase new. In comparison, on our Seagate disks we had a 3 year. 3 years! It's as if Maxtor wasn't comfortable with their product or knew that they'd been naughty.

So, tentatively, I'd say the purchase is a good thing. Perhaps all the crappy Maxtor disks on the market will improve. Sadly my cynicism barely lets me believe that and I think I'll probably just go Western Digital from now on.

Smith and Wesson Anniversary Gun

According to the fine folks at Smith and Wesson these particular guns would be ideal for my home security needs. I like how they assume that I'm in the US and old enough to purchase one. I must admit they have made a quality effort to keep their pistols pretty.

And if you don't know what to get the gun weilding maniac in your family for Christmas, then why not consider the Walther PPK? It turned 75 this year and was apparently what made James Bond famous.

Top 10 sought after out of print books

Bookfinder.com has a list of the top 10 sought after out of print books. Don't any of these people use Amazon?

1) Sex (1992) by Madonna; The pop icon's first book, featuring erotic
photos and more

2) Sisters(1981) by Lynne Cheney; Frontier lesbian romance in 19th
century Wyoming

3) The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel (1981) by Felicitas D. Goodman; An
account of the case that inspired the 2005 film The Exorcism of Emily

4) Where Troy Once Stood (1991) by Iman Wilkens; Posits that the Trojan
War took place in England, and that The Iliad and The Odyssey are based
on oral histories of a major war between Celtic peoples circa 1160 BCE

5) The Principles of Knitting (1988) by June Hemmons Hiatt; Methods and
techniques of hand knitting, the ultimate resource

6) General Printing (1963) by Glen Cleeton; Everything you ever wanted to
know about letterpress printing, but were afraid to ask

7) New Soldier(1971) edited by John Kerry; Vietnam Veterans Against
the War's account of a mismanaged war

8) The Lion's Paw (1946) by Robb White; An enduring children's adventure

9) Dear and Glorious Physician (1959) by Taylor Caldwell; A novel based
on the life of Saint Luke, patron saint of painters, physicians, and

10) The Book of Counted Sorrows (2003) by Dean Koontz; The suspense
novelist brings to life the fictional book of poetry he's been referring
to in all his novels

The only one I couldn't find on Amazon was the Book of Counted Sorrows by Dean Koontz. On Bookfinder I located it for... get this.... over over 900 GBP. And that was the best price.

I know what to keep an eye out for!

Baby Animals - Otter

I upgraded Firefox yesterday and promptly broke the script that does the technorati tagging thing. Ugh! I also can't seem to figure out how to fix it.

To cheer me up I located a picture of a baby otter:



Ex pats and Turkish Delight

Slate has an article bemoaning Turkish Delight. I, for one, really like it. It doesn't taste of roses but more violets. It's a taste that, like Marmite, is either hit or miss. For me it's unique because it tastes a bit like what I would imagine a flower to and I have it covered in Dairy Milk.

Long live Turkish!

(via PCJM


NatWest takes clocks out of banks

Oh Jesus. A few months ago I wrestled with NatWest in an effort to get about 120 pounds back that they'd charged me for after I cancelled their 'Advantage Gold' account. In the end I made off with a pitiful 56 pounds since they refused to refund the preceeding 6 months. Apparently I should have 'caught the mistake' by then by checking my bank statement. A lesson in always triple checking your documentation surely.

So when I check the Consumerist and discover that this very same bank is banning clocks in the branches to keep people ignorant of how long they've been waiting, I'm not surprised.

Pitiful, isn't it?

Ford says they will advertise in gay oriented publications

On Tuesday evening I had a chat with a friend I used to work with. He is gay and has a long term partner that he's settled in with rather nicely. Recently civil partnerships for homosexual couples were approved in the UK. Are they taking advantage? Damn right. And they'll have a registry at John Lewis.

After I stopped squealing in delight for the two of them at Mr. Me the thought came loud and strong: 'This is strange.' As a child, could I have imagined that my gay friends would be allowed to marry just like my husband and I? Probably not. I do think it's wonderful for a number of reasons. For one, promiscuity in the gay scene is absolutely rife. In fact, unlike heterosexual standards, it's considered odd if you and your partner don't participate in sex parties. I'm not going to speculate as to why that is. Seeing as I'm not a gay man, I don't have first hand experience. What I am saying is civil partnerships will help to make gay long term relationships more acceptable and in turn, more mainstream.

It doesn't just appear that it's the UK who is venturing a bit towards tolerance. Forbes has published an article describing how Ford has given the finger to the AFA and others like it. Despite a previously reported decision to the contrary they will now continue to advertise in publications meant for the gay community. Ford says they value "all people--regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences." Especially if, as the writer for Forbes points out, they need to buy a car.

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Video games and violence?

(via ghacks)

An essay on the PBS site details the myths of video game violence. The writer isn't a gamer, or at least not from introduction, he's an MIT professor named Henry Jenkins who specializes in media issues. In his essay he contends that despite the daily torrent of reports to the contrary, playing video games does not necessary have a link with violence. He goes even further to say that media alarmisim over violence in video games is actually doubly harmful because 'It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many kids who already feel cut off from the system.' So what, you're mean to the kids that already have problems and they get meaner? Who knew?

What I'm most interested in his is refutation of a point regarding video games as being 'valid forms of self expression.' Roger Ebert created a shit storm in the gaming world when he said that video games would always be inferior to novels or a great film as forms of expression. In a coherent response many came out to argue that the whole merit of gaming is due to it not being a static art form such as novels or films and are actually limited when derived from such. Gaming is interactive and can subsequently do things that reading a book can't. I'd agree, I don't think 'gaming as art' can use a definition threshold based on it's fixedness. If you apply that standard to games to define them as an art then they will lose every time.

The gamer and developers as an artists and the game as an art form are difficult concepts to digest. It's an industry, surely. It's a group of professions as well. But the controversial end product does venture into realms of a work of art and beyond something that's simply consumable. Take an opera as my example of legitimate art form, it's meant to engage, sometimes consider social issues and hopefully be pleasurable. Operatic theatre is also a source of several professions; lighting, costume design, make-up, music, acting and sets. The final product is based off its merit to move and how well people respond or how good it is. Similarly gaming is a conglomeration of professions with an end product that's meant to what, engage, comment and please the consumer? Taken apart, opera and gaming both look like art forms and none too dissimilar at that.

I think the game industry overall gets its credibility smacked by assumptions based off the titles that draw the most publicity. GTA, for example, is the game industry's Terminator. Doom is the uh, Doom. They are definitely violent, mindless, silly, consuming and bloody or exactly what the media says they are. But all forms of expression or art have aspects that focus one one thing intently. What you don't see with books (or a legitimate form of expression) is people responding to the readers of Tracy Quan novels by saying all women are becoming obsessed with becoming expensive hookers. Or when a young lady is cuffed for working that it was because of the book she ended up in prostitution. No, Quan's books are part of a genre that is a separate and distinct type from what say Salman Rushdie writes. And everyone knows that books don't necessarily make you do things right? Games also have distinct categories; they can be violent, psychological, strategy, simulation, puzzle.... The problem is most people don't bother make the distinction between the Terminators and the Walk the Line.

The games industry isn't, in my opinion, ready to create as sophisticated products as the new-ish film industry. But the potential to excel definitely is there. Many talented artists, photographers, developers, writers and musicians are all a part of gaming. These are people who have mastered their talent in more mainstream arenas, such as Kurt Harman of the band Information Society who has worked on the score for an incredible amount of video game titles. It's worth remembering that at one point neither films or photography were considered art and the people who created them were definitely not seen as artists.

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Jon Stewart wishes Bill O'Rielly a Merry Christmas

Jon Stewart is evil and hates Christmas.

I'll be at Osama's too!

Lighter Evenings

I imagine the House of Lords as a bunch of old drunks who slur around their corridors and say things like 'we can't let the plebs think we're not on their side. They may stop subsidizing my cornish game hen farm!' I believe many others hold this picture, with varying degrees of pleasure. But it's usually these guys who don't believe in detaining people without charge instead of the people's representatives. The reality is many times the Lords appear to be less drunken charlatans and more suited to government than many of the hand puppets in elected parliament.

This stark situation, in my opinion, is due to the House of Lords being made up of say 50%* people who read the Financial Times instead of the majority of the British public who glance at The Sun. The Lords, owing to a number of financial and social factors have the good sense to realize tossing people into the gulag without a reason could possibly be a waste of public funds. They realize wasting money is a bad thing. It leaves less for things like healthcare and the military. The elected Labour government, however, tend to richly bleed all over the carpets when it comes to having a few pennies in their pockets. What's a little more to fight the English spat over terror? Who cares if it takes the next 10 years of tax payers money to lock up the whole of Huddersfield? It will make the barely literate constituents feel so much better and there are always gold reserves if things get desperate.

Overall I approve of many of the Lords' decisions. But there are always exceptions, such as their insistence that fox hunting is the only possible way the farmers of England can have their chickens protected. According to them, the most efficient way to be rid of vermin is to dress up in riding gear, take out the hounds and spend a day drinking brandy whilst the dogs sniff around in the bushes. It's not just an excuse for a traditional aristocratic party, it's pest control! So there is just a little bit of madness in the House of Lords to be enjoyed.

Most of the Lords' insanity is contained in small and easy to overlook bites. Most recently it's coming from Lord Tanlaw who has proposed a bill to advance time by one hour throughout the year for an experimental period. It would mean that we would set the clocks two hours back as opposed to one and set them ahead accordingly in Spring. The justification for the bill isn't included but can be assumed to draw from a certain amount of yearly griping from the Brits over BST. Or possibly and more likely meant please his fellow members of the British Horological Institute. All of the winding and rewinding necessary to accomodate forgetfulness and the extra slight turn of the dial might mean a bit more money for them. As said above, Lords like money.

I'm not entirely sure what positive difference this would make. I may be able to wake up after dawn all the way into mid December but the nights will also be colder and deeper. Instead of it just being cold when I walk to the tram it would be getting colder and my bits would be even more freezing during my frequent waits. On the other side during the summer it might be nice to go to bed at 11:00 pm when it's actually dark. I couldn't find any actual debate from the Lords about the bill at the time of making this discovery but eagerly anticipate what they may have to say.

Lord Tanlaw, as a bit of background, has a stellar record of finding clear and present threats to English society:

Protecting the Earth from giant asteroid collisions: "Does the government not have an obligation to future generations to look beyond the event horizon of the next general election and to prepare to mitigate future risks from near space?"

British space exploration: "I shall go right back in time. As I said, I am quite out of depth on the economics of the debate. But, I dream that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren might be given an opportunity, such as the issuing of letters patent as happened in the old days, to explore the regions of space by private voyagers and private merchant venturers."