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Justin Mason's Weblog Posts


Lord of the Rings — comings to Cannes RSN…

From: “Douglas Shoop” (spam-protected)
To: “forteana” (spam-protected)
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 8:53 PM
Subject: LOTR update

Getting Into the Cannes ‘Do Spirit

by John Forde | May 1, 2001

Here in Hobbitland, there’s only one word on everyone’s lips: Cannes.

New Line unveils its worldwide media launch for the trilogy at the Cannes Film Festival this month, with a reel of selected footage from the films and a much aniticpated, invitation-only party.

The studio has rented a medieval castle just outside of Cannes for the showcase event, and it has been furnished with props from the set. LOTR’s editing crew has been working overtime to finish a special teaser with selected scenes, to be shown to international film distributors. Most of LOTR’s stars are expected to be in attendance, including Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee. Incidentally, it’ll be the first time many of the cast have met, owing to conflicting schedules last year.

The Music Man: LOTR composer Howard Shore was in Wellington recording some of his score with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and a 50-member men’s choir. Sources say the music was recorded for the Cannes trailer, which gives Shore a chance to develop his themes for the final movie score.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch… The trilogy’s stars have been quietly flying back to New Zealand for ADR [additional dialogue replacement, or looping]. We spoke to a jet-lagged Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Dominic Monaghan (Merry), who were both pleased to be back in New Zealand and looking forward to donning designer tuxedos for Cannes.

Also in town are the two Sir Ians–McKellen (Gandalf) and Holm (Bilbo)–who had fun fielding each other’s calls as they stayed in the same hotel. Sean Astin has also been spotted with wife and daughter in tow.

Good Gollum: Andy Serkis is also expected back Down Under to finish postproduction effects for Gollum. Describing his character as a “Ring-junkie” who experiences withdrawal symptoms, Serkis calls Gollum “the point of human contact for what the Ring does to you. He’s very much a case of ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ ”

The Gollum special-effects process includes motion capture technique–where performers wear a special suit covered with reflective dots, and their movements are read by a computer-driven camera and translated into an equivalent computer image. Look for our visit to the motion capture department in an upcoming report.

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Greetings from sunken R’Lyeh! Snow domes from the H.P. Lovecraft mythos.

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IBM’s SF graffiti is being imitated country-wide! Spotted in Boston too.

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 20:27:50 -0700
From: “Gordon Mohr” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Re: Sun volunteers to clean up IBM graffiti :-)

> [Cheeky, for a $20B (revenue) company. I can only hope we retain such a
> sense of humor! — Rohit]
> ————————————————————————

I think IBM’s initial campaign was boneheaded — but I now suspect that SF culture-jammers have started to propagate the sidewalk-markings elsewhere, to make IBM look even worse.

I initially saw the black-stenciled “Peace. Love. Linux.” icons on sidewalks around Moscone center, near the time of some technical conference, which at least makes sense.

(An apparent attempt has been made to remove some of the black-stencilled markings along Market street, but they remain visible, only faded.)

Now I’m noticing them in other areas, including the Haight and the Castro, where I doubt IBM would have targetted for initial ‘tagging’.

Tonight, I saw sloppy *green* and *yellow* reproductions that appeared to be fresh in Nob Hill, on California avenue, descending from the Fairmont Hotel.

  • Gordon

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Brilliant! A while ago, Dan Lyke commented, Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do gzip -dp phonelist.gnumeric | xmlsearch “select phonenumber, longdistanceprice from” | xmlsort “person.longdistanceprice”?

Well, here’s a step along that very road. xml2 converts XML into line-oriented name=value pairs, perfect for Perl, awk, grep or sed to mangle in the traditional UNIX style.

I can see this one coming in very handy!

It also points to Pyxie, which sounds similar — but I think I like the xml2 notation better.

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Apparently, a replica of Michelangelo’s David has caused a bit of controversy in Lake Alfred, Florida (pop 3,890). A quote: “I work six days a week. And we do live in Lake Alfred… you know? What we look at is raccoons and rattlesnakes. To me it was a naked man on the side of the road.”

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Gerry reckons the Irish Times are taking the piss.

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 14:42:46 +0100
From: “Gerry Carr” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: IT are taking the piss out of me

Mere days after I send them this letter

Dear Sir,

Having read Mr Cruishank’s invaluable insight into the Health Shambles, can I offer the majority of your contributors a handy Irish Times letter generator;

Dear Sir/A Chara

How can one convince this Government that we need; a decent health system; help for the homeless; housing for travellers; free care for drug addicts; help for the 3rd World; free computers for every school; more social welfare money; more money for teachers/nurses/doctors/public servants/dustbinmen/soldiers wives

much more urgently than:

2 stadiums; a spike in O Connell Street; politicians’ beanos on St Patrick’s Day; a Eurovision song contest; sponsoring a race car; bailing out RTE; fireworks on the Liffey; a government jet/building/pay rise/reception/refurbishment/chauffer/travel expenses/secretary/ etc.

Is the government lacking morals/priorities/reason/sense of proportion/focus/ethics/

yours etc/Is mise [ADD NAME HERE]

Just delete as appropriate and you’ve got yourself 6 months worth of material.

Yours etc.

They print these 4 in a row;


Sir, – Let’s see if I understand the £60 million offer of our money to the GAA. It appears to have been offered the money to ensure that foreign games would not be played at Croke Park (thereby strengthening case for Stadium Ireland), and on the understanding that some key GAA matches would be played at the folly. In effect, does this mean that the payment is designed to ensure that Croke Park will be under-utilised? Just how far are our politicians willing to go to support an ego trip which could cost a billion or so by the time it is build? How will its annual financial costs of, say, £60 million be met? That amount equates to a Croke Park “donation” for every year to infinity! Surely, this money could be better used – to reduce the national debt, improve the infrastructure, assist the underprivileged and so on. Yours, etc.,

BRIAN FLANAGAN, Blackrock, Co Dublin. Sir, – The money being proposed for financing a national stadium in Abbotstown would be equally well spent on a submerged clock counting down the 998-plus years, second by second, to the next millennium. – Yours, etc.,

JERRY TWOMEY, Woodlawn Court, Santry, Dublin 9. Sir, – I would like our Taoiseach to complete the following sentence. I believe that £1 billion should be spent on a national stadium and not on our ailing health service because . . . – Is mise,

CIARAN MacAONGHUSA Baile an tSratha, Tír Chonaill. Sir, – Haemophiliacs are offered £4 million, the GAA is to receive £60 million. What a great little country we live in. – Yours, etc.,

EAMONN TIERNEY, Beverly Avenue, Knocklyon, Dublin 16.

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Eircom gets beaten up by regulator. Check out this quote: “As eircom has failed to supply all the relevant information, I have set interim prices […] Eircom’s approach with respect to costing and the level of response and co-operation on this issue is not acceptable.”

MEDIA RELEASE For Immediate Release April 30th 2001 Telecoms Regulator sets prices for Local Loop Unbundling.

Etain Doyle, Telecoms Regulator today (Monday 30th April 2001) cleared the way for implementation of local loop unbundling. In a Decision Notice today the regulator set prices for access and directed changes to eircom’s Reference Access Offer. Monthly line rental is fixed at €13.53, or £10.66.

According to the Regulator ” while there has been an LLU reference offer available from Eircom since the due date of 31 December 2000, this was incomplete and non compliant in several respects. In order to ensure that consumers are in a position to derive the benefits that Local Loop Unbundling can bring I have decided to intervene and set prices.”

Local Loop unbundling has to potential to increase significantly the range of competitive services available to businesses and consumers. It requires the network owner to provide access to the copper pair connecting an individual telephone subscriber to the nearest point of interconnection with the main telephone network at the local exchange. This allows new entrants to offer a full range of broadband services directly to the customer.

The regulator continued “As eircom has failed to supply all the relevant information, I have set interim prices based on the information available to me. Despite repeated requests and the clear direction that the 30th April was the final date for the determination, there are still very substantial gaps in the material provided to me by eircom. Eircom’s approach with respect to costing and the level of response and co-operation this issue is not acceptable.” These charges set are based on data from eircom, benchmarking and other reviews and analyses by the ODTR of efficient operator costs. They are within the range of pricing in other EU countries. The line rental at €13.53 is within the EU range from €8.23 to €19.51, and connection at €119.73 compared with €47 to €221.69.

The setting of these prices does not relieve eircom of its responsibility to address the deficiencies in its pricing proposals and to make a comprehensive re-submission to the ODTR on all matters.

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Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them.

From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
Organization: Management School
To: (spam-protected)
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 12:00:05 +0000
Subject: Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them

The Times


Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them


GERMAN measles, the Ebola virus and Lassa fever may be a blight on the regions that are forever linked with the illnesses. Even conditions such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever West Nile encephalitis or even Malibu disease (a nasty skin complaint suffered by surfers) add insult to injury. Political correctness has spread to diseases. Doctors are to discuss ending the practice of naming them after places in case it has a “negative impact”.

Doctors from 70 countries meeting in France this week at the World Medical Association will hear calls for change raised by the Finnish delegation, upset that Salla disease, a genetic disorder, was named after a small town of 10,000 souls in the north of their country. It is not Finland’s only place in the lexicon of illness. Kumlinge disease, a viral encephalitis, took its name from a Finnish island and Pogosta disease recalls a small village in eastern Finland.

The Finns want an end to the practice of naming new diseases after “persons, communities or regions”, pointing out that diseases are “very seldom restricted to a certain area”. The Finns conclude: “Germs and infectious agents can usually be found anywhere in the world. When giving names to diseases or pathological conditions, no names should be used, which could insult or have negative impact on persons, communities or regions.”

The naming of diseases is regarded as something of a privilege for scientists making the discovery, as reflected by conditions named after researchers such as Huntington’s, Down’s and Hughes Syndrome — a blood-clotting disorder described in 1983 by Graham Hughes, a British doctor.

But there are also countless examples of places forever linked to the first recognition of rare and distressing illnesses, such as Marburg’s disease (an acute haemorrhagic fever, with some of first reported cases in Marburg, Germany, in 1967). Peter Lackman, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “The naming of diseases is something which has grown up in a quite unorganised way and this is probably inevitable. What is important is that a consistent name is always given. Otherwise this causes confusion.

“For example, the English Disease is what the French used to call syphilis while the English called it the French Disease.”

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