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Justin's Linklog Posts

War-cycling

some ILUG regulars conducted a war-drive around Dublin and found 378 stations, with quite a high range of WEP use compared to previous surveys: 39%. BTW, is this the first use of warcycling? The green alternative!

Blizzard’s blog

Mozilla fans (and people who want to see how anti-aliasing is doing getting into Mozilla HEAD) may find Chris Blizzard‘s blog worth tracking.

blogrolling

I’ve added a few more folks to the blogroll — Jeremy Zawodny (who now hosts one of the SpamAssassin primary sites), Rod, who contributes regularly to SpamAssassin, and Joel, who just writes cool articles about software development. ;) Where? yonder over rightwards…

the despotic regime of (Dr.) Noam Chomsky

BoingBoing forwards 2 links to hilarious Nigerian Scam parodies, one from Dick Cheney and one from Laura Bush. Cory quotes it already, but it’s too good to miss, so I will too:

I am the widow of the late President George W. Bush of the United States of America. I am writing you this letter in confidence regarding my current circumstances.

I escaped the United States ahead of death squads with my husband and two children Jenna and Frank, moving first to England and then, when my husband’s political enemies took power there, to Austria. All of our wealth, obtained legitimately through baseball, oil drilling and insider trading, was seized by the new government of the USA under the despotic regime of (Dr.) Noam Chomsky, except for the contents of a few Swiss bank accounts. These bank accounts, which contain social security lock-box funds and the bulk of the 2001 budget surplus, could not be accessed by me or my children, due to agreements made between the socialist government of the USA and Swiss bank regulators. They seized our ranch in Crawford, Texas and now use it to teach homosexualist propaganda to schoolchildren.

Idiot falls for 419 scam

Idiot falls for 419 scam, hook line and sinker, bankrupting her employers. “It’s unbelievable that she fell for this,” gasped investigating FBI Special Agent James Hoppe, echoing the sentiments of Jules Olsman, president of Olsman Mueller & James. “This is just absolutely beyond description,” he said.

Systemic Game Design

Gamasutra reports from GDC Europe. It’s good to see Systemic Game Design is getting a lot more attention these days as CPU power increases on consoles, instead of the random 3D graphics tweakery that predominates on the PC platform. Systemic game design is defined here as follows:

“Instead of hard-coding lots of features into the game .. the systemic paradigm tries to create global patterns which provide emergent gameplay, and the ability to create alternative strategies using the level’s resources. … In this way a player can come up with new ideas to solve problems by combining items in ways that perhaps even the level designers hadn’t considered. This improves the sense of immersion and freedom, while emphasizing player’s self-expression capabilities through the game. … An example of a systemic game is GTA3, where each mission can be solved in dozens of ways, as compared to old lock-and-key adventure games, where player expression and alternative strategies were basically non-existent. In a systemic game world, the player can use different methods to solve a problem. In a non-systemic game world, you must guess how the game designer wanted you to solve the problem, even if that way does not feel very intuitive, nor fun.”

Mmm. Grand Theft Auto 3. PS: GTA3 can also be found on my Amazon wishlist ;)

P.J. O’Rourke in Cairo

P. J. O’Rourke visits Cairo — during Ramadan (made the same mistake myself). Highlights include driving:

I saw a driving school. What could the instruction be like? No, no, Anwar, faster through the stop sign, and make your left from the far-right lane. Surely John Kifner, Chris Matthews, and NBC News are kidding when they use Arab street as a metaphor for anything in the Middle East. Or, considering the history of the Middle East, maybe they aren’t.

And then plenty of politics:

I had lunch with an Egyptian who had been born in the United States. When he was in high school, in suburban Chicago, he became serious about religion and observed Ramadan with rigor. Then he went to Egypt to work as a journalist, and now, in Ramadan, he was having lunch. My sister is a Christian fundamentalist, I said. She wouldn’t crash a plane into the World Trade Center, but she might land pretty hard on evolution. And then we’d all have to remain amoebas. A lot of people don’t make that connection, the Egyptian journalist from Chicago said.

But O’Rourke then goes on to quote The Middle East Media and Research Institute. Do a search on The Guardian‘s site for more info on those guys (upshot: very loose cherry-picked “translations”, with an emphasis on misrepresenting the importance of the speaker — so, for example, “random lunatic with an axe to grind against Israel” becomes “government spokesman”, that kind of thing).

Apart from that, overall, an interesting article.

Reclaim the Streets

The Reclaim The Streets demo last Sunday went off well, sounds like. I would have gone but I hadn’t heard (or had forgotten) about it :(

The fact that it went well is a relief, because the last one became a bloodbath when some of the Gardai got a little over-excited, removed their identification, and started swinging clubs and “arresting” attendees indiscriminately. Very nasty, or so I hear. (I wasn’t back in Dublin by that point.)

Along with some reports of massive corruption in the Donegal police force, this event turned out to be a watershed in how Irish folks are viewing their police. That kind of thing wasn’t really a problem over here in the last few years — but now it seems to have all changed. Old news for people in the UK, US, Northern Ireland and Australia — but quite new to us here.

Big Green Network

The sustainably-powered wireless network with satellite uplink set up at the Big Green Gathering, near Cheddar in Somerset, last July. Pretty interesting, although ghod knows I would not want to have to pedal too much just to check my mail.

And, oh look, there’s a spam-relevant comment in the Lessons Learnt section!

Many people will check their email happily, unless they have to (pedal) for an equal amount of time! If this is extended to the environment, then slow email servers and spam are causing huge amounts of wasted energy and pollution, and not just psychologically. The question on many people’s lips was “what is the alternative?”

Answer: SquirrelMail.

titles at last

I’ve added titles to this blog, since RSS looks silly without them. But I am not going back through all those entries… argh…

greenish foul-smelling gravy

While trekking in Nepal, I had a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Trekking in the Himalayas, borrowed from our mates Caolan and Barbara. It was especially notable for its incredible medical section, which contained lots of info on what drugs to use to treat various diseases, described symptomatically (of course, in most of the world, most of the common illnesses boast symptoms similar to “I have greenish foul-smelling gravy squirting from both ends of my body”. But it’s good to be able to tell them apart).

It was also notable, because anyone who had a copy knew all about altitude sickness, and were indescribably paranoid. The ones who were charging up the trails as fast as they could generally did not have a copy, and no doubt half of them came back down again in slightly nasty circumstances.

Anyway, it was the best medical info I’ve ever read. Reading the paper today, I came across a reference to e-med.co.uk, which claims to be medical info, including treatment details, for people who might be far away from a doctor. The perfect resource for a know-it-all who doesn’t want to spend money and time on a doctor, just to be told to go home and take an aspirin! Unfortunately it seems to be a “consultation by email” service, rather than “look it all up” one. Ah well.

Caolan and Barbara should be somewhere around Oz by now. I must see if I can dig up the URL of their travelogue site, it’s great fun.

FormMail && !NMS == bad

looks like some spammer has read the FormMail advisory I co-wrote with Ronald F. Guilmette; expect to see more spam where the spam message appears before the “Below are the results of your feedback form” line.

Of course, SpamAssassin catches this anyway. ;)

more Nigerian scam piss-taking

a good reply to the Nigerian scams, on Slashdot:

…unfortunately I don’t have that much money. I do have seventeen dollars and fifty-six cents. I really want you to have all of that. I hope you can overlook the fact that I’m several million short of your goal, but the key is that I try hard and I’m an excellent wind surfer.

Ads and morality

BB reports that “Russian entrepreneurs are spraypainting logoed advertisements for their products and services on stray dogs and releasing them as walking, starving billboards.” This sounds just a bit too Chris Morris to me, and considering it came via Ananova / Orange Today’s “quirkies” service — which is not exactly reknowned for doing the backup research first — I would say it’s pretty unlikely… let’s see what forteana make of it.

EtText changes

hooray, I got rid of that horrible “add line breaks to preserve short lines in HTML” feature from EtText, it was driving me nuts. The irony is, I only added it because txt2html had it. Keeping up with the Joneses just causes trouble, it seems.

Spam Subject Lines

a spam mail asks: jm, do we have your money? There’s a very simple answer: “no you don’t, and you never will, you scumbags”. Scutterin’ gobsheens, as Podge and Rodge would say.

Spent an enlightening day clambering around Dublin’s rooftops with a bunch of helium balloons on a 20-metre piece of string. Can you guess what I was doing? Yes, it’s the latest geek pastime: Hunt The Line Of Sight!

All was well — we found it, the weather was lovely, my Aussie-learnt balloon technique rocked, and we came up with some better ways to do it in future ;)

Sex and death: mystery solved

This promo calendar for an Italian coffin manufacturer has been doing the blog-rounds recently — and the more eagled-eyed viewer might have wondered at the words MIKE LEAVE ME ALONE written on the back of the last model.

Well, wonder no more — an italian Forteana subscriber, Giuseppe de Nicolellis, has got to the bottom of it. Case closed!

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 23:31:25 +0200
From: “Giuseppe de Nicolellis” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Sex and death: mystery solved


> http://www.cofanifunebri.it/sexy-calendario.htm – somewhat unlikely
> promo calendar from an Italian coffin manufacturer.
>
> So do you fancy giving them a call and finding out why the last model has “MIKE
> LEAVE ME ALONE” written on her back?

The webmaster of www.cofanifunbri.it has just answered my enquiry. He published the image more than an year ago without the writing. A few months ago he received this e-mail from a website offering adult contents for webmasters:


Do you have a license to use this image? I do not have a license on file for:

Registrant: Matteucci Maurizio (COFANIFUNEBRI-DOM) Villa Bastilica, 30 Roma, 00148 IT

Please let me know if you have purchased the license under a different name, or please remove the image from your site.

Thanks, Mikey PhoenixContent.com

(spam-protected)


Our webmaster decided to suggest him politely to f..ck off adding the writing on the back of the lady.

(Our webmaster didn’t explain whether he really stole the image from the website or not, and I didn’t dare to ask).

Another Fortean Mystery solved!

denic

IBM developerWorks on SpamAssassin

Good article about SpamAssassin at IBM developerWorks:

After having used JunkFilter for years, and thinking it was pretty good, I was blown away by how effective SpamAssassin is. I think that this is due in large part to several good design decisions on the part of SpamAssassin’s developers.

Why, thank you! ;)

RSS by mail

Aaron shares his rss-by-mail script. My reaction (cut from mail): “Together with my Mailman-archives-to-RSS script, and my blog (which is updated by mail), soon the semantic web will run entirely on SMTP…” (cackles evilly).

Well, maybe not yet — but it’s getting there. a bit.

lot of gorillas

C|Net reports:

Two weeks ago, six top financial institutions met privately with AOL Time Warner, Microsoft, IBM and other leading corporate instant messaging providers and urged them to build communications networks that interoperate. …. The meeting, which took place at Merrill Lynch’s New York offices, was among the first convened by the Instant Messaging Standards Board (IMSB), a newly created consortium led by financial services firms Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, UBS and Deutsche Bank.

Holy shit, that’s a lot of gorillas! (via Doc).

Koyaanisqatsi – Live

Danny O’Brien is off to the event of the year: Philip Glass and the Glass Ensemble performing a live accompaniment to a showing of Koyaanisqatsi. I am, needless to say, green with envy. Chance of that coming to Dublin? Hovering around the “zero” mark I should think. Bugger.

In other news, Cam is back, and in good form, from the sounds of it. Apparently SpamAssassin filtered 7MB of spam while he was away. So someone gets more spam than I do!

Region coding is evil

goddammit. Just got a PS2 for my birthday (wahoo!), and immediately thought about getting hold of the Koyaanisqatsi/Powaqqatsi 2-pack DVD. But it’s region-coded to US/Canada only in the edition on Amazon.com, and not available at all at Amazon.co.uk. Region coding is evil.

Of course, I could buy it somewhere else — but I wasn’t planning to buy it, I was looking to set up an Amazon.com wishlist!

comments on Star Wars Episode II

David Brin gets all anti-fannish about Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. I really don’t know why he bothers, it and Episode 1 were atrocious, George Lucas has lost it, full stop, IMO. But I did like the way Brin refers to Yoda as “one green preachy oven mitt”; I’d just append “with the voice of Fozzie Bear”.

And who are the critics who’ve never seen a Maori before? “bounty hunter Jango Fett even looks Latino” my arse.

Hitler writes dictionaries

Microsoft’s Spanish thesaurus, included in Word for Windows 6.0 in Mexico, contains some unfortunate synonyms:

  • Indian: man-eater or savage
  • Western: Aryan, white, civilized
  • Lesbian: pervert, depraved person

That would be the risk when you use a mid-1930s source document, it sounds like!

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 13:42:02 +0100
From: Barbara Barrett (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: Micro$oft’s Spanish language problems

——– Original Message ——–

Microsoft Apology for Errors in Spanish

MEXICO CITY (Reuter) – Microsoft Corp, the world’s biggest software company, apologized Friday to Mexicans for “grave errors” in its computer thesaurus that equated Indians with cannibals. Several Mexicans telephoned the company to protest after a newspaper reported Wednesday that the Spanish thesaurus included in Microsoft’s popular word processor program Word for Windows 6.0 contained some unfortunate synonyms. Used by up to 200,000 people in Mexico, a country whose population is mainly descended from Aztec and Maya Indians, the Microsoft program sugggested as alternatives for the word “Indian:” “man-eater” or “savage.” Consulted for synonyms for “Western,” the Spanish language program gave “Aryan,” “white” and “civilized.” Lesbians were equated with “pervert” and “depraved person.”

“Microsoft Mexico offers an apology to its users and to the public in general for some grave errors in the synonyms of the Microsoft Word dictionary in Spanish, whose mistaken connotations are offensive,” the company said in a full-page newspaper advertisement published Friday. Microsoft Mexico marketing manager Alejandra Calatayud said the company was dispatching a language expert next week from its software development center in Ireland to discuss changes to the thesaurus with El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico’s most august cultural body.

“We accept our responsibility and hope to have a new version of the dictionary available in about five weeks,” she told Reuters. The revised version will be made available free of charge via the Internet. Ignacio Blum, Microsoft Mexico’s product manager for office products, told Reuters that the computer thesaurus was based on existing dictionaries. “If you check these words in most dictionaries, you will find the same definitions,” he said.

Mexican politicians and intellectuals condemned the pejorative computer thesaurus anyway. “I see this as profoundly dangerous because it is a lack of respect for our dignity as Mexicans and for our indigenous roots,” said Adriana Luna, an opposition party congresswoman on the lower house’s culture committee. “We must give battle to combat this specter of conservatism and fascism which is appearing all around us” Florentino Castro, a legislator from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Jornada. The English version of the Microsoft Word program does not give the same synonyms. Homosexual was equated with “gay” or “lesbian” and Indian was “cave dweller,” “ancient tribe” or “aborigine.”

HTML diffing

Sitescooper: Aaron notes that the Wayback Machine has added support for diffing HTML, using technology licensed from DocuComp (demo), and he notes “HTML Diff is extremely difficult and they do a half decent job, but it’s got plenty of room to improve.”

Maybe they should look at Sitescooper: it’s had HTML diffing for the last 3 years, using diff(1) or Algorithm::Diff and some basic knowledge of HTML presentation. Though mind you, DocuComp might have some trouble having a look, as it’s free software, licensed under the GPL. :)

Of course, Sitescooper is a big, chunky lump of application, very oriented towards scraping an entire news site, downloading the latest news, stripping down the HTML and delivering that in one file — ie. exactly what you want for viewing news sites offline on a PDA, but when you want to use just nifty feature in there, you’re stuck with the whole application. It’s just not UNIX.

So, one thing I’ve been thinking about doing recently, is taking some of the code in Sitescooper and refactoring it into a UNIX toolset; a wget-style getting tool, which has Sitescooper‘s knowledge of how to cache and rewrite URLs; a HTML-differ; and a few other tools. But this is still thinking, at the moment.

CZFree.net

A good article about Prague’s CZFree.net, via Cory. Hopefully it’ll provide some good ideas for the Irish-WAN folks:

The most promising way (of getting onto the internet) seems to be connecting to the backbone on a wholesale basis, which is what CZFree.net does through its backbone provider — TransgasNet, the telecoms arm of gas company Transgas. “The connection is already built, and it’s real broadband, guaranteed connection, so the issue of Internet connection is solved,” Janda said.

CZFree.net also has a unique approach to providing Internet connectivity to its members. Janda said that the idea is to give each user at least 32 kbps Internet connectivity (around two-thirds of the dial-up access speed) free, while users who want additional bandwidth will pay a certain fee. The fee is still undecided because the initiative is still in the formative phase, but it should be Kc 200 to Kc 300. The connection to the wireless network is free by default, although every user has to invest in the hardware necessary for exchanging data over the Wi-Fi.

Adding titles

hooray, those Next/Prev links are now implemented. I knew sitemap support in WebMake would come in handy, eventually. If you’re using Mozilla, switch on that View -> Show -> Site Navigation Bar and hyperventilate with excitement.

Some day I should start adding titles to all these blog items… some day when I have a lot of time on my hands, that is.

Hello sidebar

some changes around these parts, in case you haven’t noticed. Firstly, I’ve caved, and adopted the de-facto std of having a sidebar. Everyone’s doing it, and I just want to fit in.

Secondly, there’s now an RSS feed, at the request of Bernie at topgold. All you folks with yer fancy news aggregators and what-not can now add taint.org/rss10.xml to the blogrolling list.

Thirdly, I’ve deprecated my old home page content, replacing it with this blog. After all, an infrequently-updated website is a useless website, and this is my most frequently-updated site these days.

I’ve been ogg-encoding my CD collection. Soundtrack for today:

  • Future Sound of London, Dead Cities

  • Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi

not so ”herbal”

(Update, Feb 2007: This PSA may be relevant to this story, possibly.)

it seems a herbal remedy which “mystified and delighted doctors when it cured prostate cancer”, in fact contained hefty quantities of synthetic drugs (link):

We do have to admit that these are not natural substances … and that at least some, if not all, of the biological activity has to be attributed to these synthetic compounds.

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2002 19:25:37 +0100
From: Rachel Carthy (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Um, is diethystilbestrol a herb?

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020903/sc_nm/health_cancer_prostate_dc_1

‘Alternative’ Prostate Medicine Contains Drugs Tue Sep 3, 3:53 PM ET

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A so-called alternative herbal compound that mystified and delighted doctors when it cured prostate cancer in fact contained strong drugs that can only be made in the laboratory, researchers said on Tuesday.

Called PC-SPES, the compound was pulled off the market in February when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it contained prescription-only ingredients.

A team of Czech and U.S. researchers confirmed that the allegedly natural preparation contains the prescription bloodthinner warfarin, an analgesic called indomethacin and an artificial version of estrogen.

“These are synthetic compounds and under the circumstances we don’t have a good explanation for their finding their way into this preparation,” Dr. Robert Nagourney of Rational Therapeutics in Long Beach, California, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

Nagourney advocates the use of standard drugs and alternative therapies to treat cancer and was hoping to find out how PC-SPES worked.

PC-SPES — the name combines “PC” for prostate cancer and the Latin world “spes” which means hope — astonished doctors soon after it was introduced in 1996. Its maker, BotanicLabs of Brea, California, said it contained seven Chinese or Indian herbs plus saw palmetto.

No clinical studies showed how well it worked against prostate cancer, which affects 189,000 American men a year and kills 30,000. But anecdotal evidence showed it could help even advanced prostate cancer patients.

“That was what launched my interest in the mid-1990s,” said Nagourney, whose team published its findings in this week’s issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

ACTIVE INGREDIENT

“We were already trying it in patients. I was seeing objective responses. I was very anxious to see if we could isolate the active ingredient.”

But Nagourney’s team could not make their own mixture of the eight plant products work.

So they sent PC-SPES to the labs of Milos Sovak of the University of California San Diego, who worked with colleagues in the Czech Republic to analyze it.

That was when they found the rogue ingredients, which should only be used under a doctor’s supervision.

The estrogen component, diethystilbestrol, could itself explain many of the effects of the product, Nagourney said. The hormone estrogen is sometimes used to treat prostate cancer.

Indomethacin also may have properties that work against tumor cells, as do other drugs in the same class, the researchers said.

Warfarin can cause dangerous bleeding and in October 2001 doctors in Seattle reported a case of severe bleeding in a man who was taking PC-SPES.

“We do have to admit that these are not natural substances … and that at least some, if not all, of the biological activity has to be attributed to these synthetic compounds,” Nagourney said.

He has not given up hope, however. “There are meritorious natural products that need to be explored,” Nagourney said. He said all “alternative” remedies should be scientifically tested, as drugs are.

BotanicLab, which closed in June, had warned customers to stop using its product and throw away any unused capsules. —

“The good Christian should be aware of mathematicians and all those who make empty promises. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.” St Augustine of Hippo, late 4th C AD.

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EircomTribunal.com

Ireland: EircomTribunal.com, which highlights very effectively, and quite humourously, the current situation with the internet fiasco in Ireland. This is sure to be sued into oblivion very shortly ;)

Quorn, the yummy fungus

Via forteana: Quorn, the yummy meat-substitute, has been having a hard time of it recently. First, there’s a court case going on in the US at the moment, where some people are suing the company claiming that Quorn makes them puke — now the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority is requiring that they get rid of claims of its “mushroom” origins, and note more clearly that it’s a mycoprotein.

But hey, anyone who thinks eating “real” meat bought in a an average supermarket is a good idea, can stick with that, as the hormones turn them into hirsute, uddered bovines. I’m happy with my mostly-veggie diet.

Gordon Rutter, fungus expert at forteana, notes in passing:

A few years ago there was a court case about mushroom soup – the majority are actually made with boletes rather than what people would think of as mushrooms. The reason is that mushrooms don’t preserve very well whereas boletes do and people did not want lumpy bits of black putrescence floating in their soup.

He also notes that the Quorn fungus is a tiny bit more closely related to the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, than it is to a mushroom. urgh. Now I feel sick.

Date: Wed, 04 Sep 2002 09:51:00 +0100
From: “Gordon Rutter” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Re: Mmm, fungal

There are lots of historical precedents over this sort of argument – a few years ago there was a court case about mushroom soup – the majority are actually made with boletes rather than what people would think of as mushrooms. The reason is that mushrooms don’t preserve very well whereas boletes do and people did not want lumpy bits of black putrescence floating in their soup. Thsi was eventually got over when “experts” were brought in to testify that in common useage mushroom refered to something of a particular shape that was fungal in origin and edible.

The quorn people have a bit of problem with names and thigns – a couple of years ago they were informed they were using a totally different species to the one they were telling everyone – who says taxonomists don’t have a job to do.

BTW the species they use is a parasite of grasses which is carcinogenic in humans! Oh to be totally exact it’s a mutated form which is no longer carcinogenic. When BSE hit the headlines quorn production literally doubled over the space of however long it takes to build a fermenter – best thing that could have happened fro them business wise.

Gordon

As previously mentioned –

http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,2763,785679,00.html

Quorn ‘meat’ must be sold as fungus

James Meikle, health correspondent

Wednesday September 4, 2002

The Guardian

The advertising standards authority has declared that the Quorn brand of meat substitutes has been misleading the public by referring to their key ingredient as a “mushroom protein”.

It has told manufacturers Marlow Foods to delete the claim from advertising unless it also gives equal prominence to either the ingredient’s fungal origin or explains its technical origin as a mycoprotein, found naturally in the soil but then put in a glucose medium and fermented.

The food industry is already under investigation by the food standards agency for being too ready to use label descriptions that imply natural, country goodness.

The authority’s decision was in response to complaints from the mushroom industry which alleged that Quorn’s makers were trying to transfer “agreeable associations consumers have with mushrooms” to their product, and from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a US not-for-profit organisation. These related to three magazine advertisements implying that Quorn mince and burgers were “made from a natural mushroom protein”.

But there was some good news for Quorn. The food agency has refused to have the range withdrawn from sale despite the CPSI’s consistent questioning of the products’ safety record.

Marlow Foods, based in north Yorkshire, agreed to suspend the term “mushroom protein” from its promotional material. The chairman of the food agency, Sir John Krebs, has already suggested the term “fungal” was rather more accurate than “mushroom” when it came to decribing the ingredient’s origin.

The company said last night: “We accept the ASA’s ruling. We have always strived to provide meaningful consumer information. We will take the ASA’s comments into account when planning any future advertising.”

Evolving circuits

man, this is so cool. “A self-organising electronic circuit has stunned engineers by turning itself into a radio receiver. This … followed an experiment to see if an automated design process … could be used to breed an oscillator. …. When they looked more closely they found that, despite producing an oscillating signal, the circuit itself was not actually an oscillator. Instead, it was behaving more like a radio receiver, picking up a signal from a nearby computer and delivering it as an output.” New Scientist, via BoingBoing.

Mozilla supports site navigation

excellent, Mozilla 1.1 supports site navigation via LINK tags; check the menu under View -> Show/Hide -> Site Navigation Bar. About time too! (he said ungratefully.) Now to figure out some time in the nearish future to fix this blog to use the goddamn things. (via Danny)

An Uruk of Morder writes

so, everyone knows that Nigerian Scam, “help us embezzle lots of developing-world money that got lost somehow during some coup”, that kind of thing. Well, Theo Van Dinter forwards a new take on it:

I am an Uruk of Mordor, charged with the discovery of a number of valuable treasures within Moria. It has come to my notice that the mithril hoard previously owned by Ori of the land of Moria has been found by one of our cave-trolls. Under our laws, the hoard will be shared between our lord Sauron and the local Balrog, but so far neither knows the extent of the treasure.

Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 23:04:58 -0400
From: Theo Van Dinter (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Mordor Scam

I caught this on another mailing list and hadn’t seen it here yet. Thought you folks would enjoy it. :)

Dear Sir,

I am an Uruk of Mordor, charged with the discovery of a number of valuable treasures within Moria. It has come to my notice that the mithril hoard previously owned by Ori of the land of Moria has been found by one of our cave-trolls. Under our laws, the hoard will be shared between our lord Sauron and the local Balrog, but so far neither knows the extent of the treasure.

Sir, I come to you as a respectful businessperson in order that we may derive some profit ourselves from this venture, I would wish that I could arrange for the transfer of half of the find to yourself, costing roughly 20,000 silver pennies. From this amount, I will then arrange for a further such that 25% remains your own, 5% goes for sundry costs (including hire of strong Rohan horses for use in transportation), 5% is given in bribe to the cave troll to ensure the quantity reported to our respective Lords is adjusted, 65% belongs to myself and my fellow Orcs.

In order that this be accomplished, I ask only that you provide details of:

Your willingness to participate in this venture,

Confirmation that you will not speak of this venture to anyone else, or wear any magic rings,

Your race and land of residence,

The location of your local Palantir or identity of your preferred message-carrying bird or beast,

Your given name, and any name you are known by in the Western lands,

The number of ponies you possess.

I look forward to your returning correspondence, which can be whispered to any passing magpie. I trust that you will ensure that no other dark feathered birds come to hear of this transaction.

kicked in the balls

latest bizarre Japanese sex fetish: “There weren’t any particular standards regarding who was hired. I suppose the only requirement was an ability to stand erect after being kicked in the balls”. (via forteana, of course) (Link)

Date: Mon, 02 Sep 2002 12:35:39 -0700
From: Brian Chapman (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: The Japanese are a creative people

http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/waiwai/index.html

Tarzan Yagi, a former porno actor who turned to making adult movies when he went soft four years ago, has been one of the driving forces behind the production of ball kicking videos.

“You can’t use professional actors, because you’re making films about men being kicked in their most vital organ. If you did use them, they’d soon be put out of work. So we advertised in S&M magazines and over the Internet to find guys to appear in tamakeri videos. We had over 200 applicants. There weren’t any particular standards regarding who was hired. I suppose the only requirement was an ability to stand erect after being kicked in the balls,” Yagi tells Shukan Taishu, with a laugh.

etc.