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Justin's Linklog Posts


New layout. Hope you like it! There seems to be a bit of rogue metadata on the loose that’s changing the title to something bizarre, though ;)


CNN: “A plaque intended to honor black actor James Earl Jones at a Florida celebration of the life of Martin Luther King, instead paid tribute to James Earl Ray, the man who killed the black civil rights leader, officials said Wednesday. … the erroneous plaque read: ” Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive”.” Whoops. Not everyone can make that bad a mistake.


Well, I’ve just added archives to the blog — about time too. Hopefully this will help keep fresh and sweet-smelling.


Students describe John Walker as bumbling zealot:

John Walker bumbled his way through his first trip to the Middle East, unwittingly insulting other Muslims and repeatedly getting into trouble with authorities, say those who encountered the Marin teen-ager in Yemen. …

Josh Mortensen, another student, said from Cairo that Walker asked peers to call him Suleiman, affected a “bogus” Arabic accent and wore traditional Muslim garb unlike that of most Yemenis. Other foreign students at the school mockingly nicknamed him “Yusuf Islam,” the name pop singer Cat Stevens took when he became a Muslim and rejected his music career. …

Islamic experts said that in his naivete, Walker, a baptized Roman Catholic who converted to Islam at 16, fell into a trap so common that Mohammed himself predicted it.

“A person who might have been living a typical happy-go-lucky life and then he really gets very much attracted to the teaching of Islam and its ideal, but then he wants to change overnight – that’s what the prophet actually was teaching against,” said Jamal Badawi of the Islamic Information Foundation in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “He said, ‘Go gently.”‘


“A wayward weighing machine that told a woman she was a fat pig and told a man than he was a fat * * * * has been removed from a Melbourne shopping centre.” Hmm, hidden keyboard eh?

Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 11:55:59 +1000
From: Peter Darben (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: The War on Fat goes High Tech

—– (from The Courier Mail (Brisbane) 16.1.02)


It was anything but just the ticket.

A wayward weighing macine that told a woman she was a fat pig and told a man than he was a fat * * * * (spaces inserted to keep Rob’s ISP happy- pd) has been removed from a Melbourne shopping centre.

Red-faced operators pulled the plug on the renegade scales after furious complaints about offensive comments it added to personal weight details.

The coin-operated scales are programmed to print a person’s height, weight and body mass details.

Bruce Hamilton was stunned to read that while his weight was up slightly, the ticket also told him he was a fat * * * *.

The Body Weight Machine was removed at dawn yesterday. Supplier Ian Sargent believes it was maliciously tampered with.

Mr Sargent said tickets usually carried “nice” messages such as “Happy Christmas” or “Happy New Year”.

He said it appeared someone had seen a technician use a password to access the hidden keyboard under the pad where the messages were changed.



coming soon – . . . the horror . . . the horror


Joel @’s made a Flash video for Destiny’s Child which is worth a look — you might need knowledge of UKian TV for this one — . (fwded by Stewart Smith from forteana)


Japanese youth getting rowdy at their ‘coming of age’ ceremonies.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:27:32 -0000
From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Drunken Japanese youths ruin coming of age rituals

The Electronic Telegraph

Drunken Japanese youths ruin coming of age rituals

By Colin Joyce in Tokyo

(Filed: 15/01/2002)

DRUNKEN youths disrupted Japan’s annual coming of age ceremonies yesterday, adding to concerns that the younger generation do not share the traditional Japanese values of courtesy and patience.

Japanese women celebrate at the coming of age ceremony in Tokyo The ceremonies are intended to mark the attainment of adulthood by those who turned 20 in the last 12 months. In recent years, however, the events have become a painful annual reminder of the growing gap between the generations.

In Naha city, on the southern island of Okinawa, seven people were arrested after youths drove through a police barricade in an attempt to bring a barrel of sake to the ceremony. Scuffles followed and 200 riot police were eventually deployed.

Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha, said: “These stupid antics really leave me feeling sad and pained.”

Older Japanese observed their own coming of age ceremonies in respectful silence. Most recall it as an important rite of passage, though not necessarily because of the ceremony itself.

For many young women it represents the first opportunity to wear their elaborate, and breathtakingly expensive, full kimonos. While most women still wear their kimonos, a large number of the new adults sport hair dyed an orange-blond.

Yesterday, youths cheerfully swigged from huge sake bottles for television cameras, while others gave interviews in the deliberately rough street speech that older Japanese find boorish and inelegant.

Arrests marred ceremonies in several other cities. In Miyazaki, several youths set off firecrackers during the national anthem.

In Aomori, northern Japan, two boys mounted the stage and threw mayonnaise at each other before running off. Elsewhere, speeches were disrupted by hecklers.

It surprises no one that the new adults indulge in some drinking, but older Japanese say that in their day they waited until after the official business before getting drunk.

The Japanese believe that the virtues of respect for other people and patience are what make their society work so there is great disappointment that many youths are unable to sit through the ceremonies without chatting on their mobile telephones.

Sympathisers point out that the ceremonies are typified by boring and lengthy speeches but attempts to liven up events have led to some cringingly embarrassing scenes.

In Urayasu city, outside Tokyo, young people chose to fete their emergence as adults by dancing with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at nearby Disneyland. The generational change may be partly explained by the fact that 20-year-old Japanese today are further than ever before from the trappings of adulthood.

Ninety per cent still live at home and are economically dependent on their parents. A prolonged recession has damned many to low-paying, part-time jobs with little responsibility.

The average age of marriage and parenthood has risen by several years in the space of a generation. A survey showed that three quarters of 20-year-olds do not feel themselves to be adults.


Lovely user support, a la Smoothwall. One of the /. comments notes:

I have visited only once. I do feel, however, that my experience there alone was almost enough to discourage my use of the product. I joined the #smoothwall channel in hopes that I might find answers from knowledgable users or developers that I had been unable to find in any of the available documentation (all of which I read in its entirety).

Upon joining the channel, I was bombarded with the omnipresent topic, “Welcome to #smoothwall :: Please do not expect free support if you haven’t donated.

Ignoring the blatantly anti-open-source sentiment, I proceeded to ask about features and functionality that I feel are paramount to implementation of a device designed to secure my entire network. Before anyone so much as regarded my first question, I was bombarded with “Have you paid yet?” A simple ‘not yet’ got me my first response: “Can’t you read the f**king topc?!”

Of course, I wasn’t looking for support — simply answers to questions about the products capabilities. Off to a great start.

Quite a few of the other comments say pretty much the same thing. IPCop is a fork of the code. Use that instead, I reckon.


I used to think that geocaching sounded a bit silly — but after visiting Glenrowan’s astonishingly cruddy animatronic-fest that is Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, this looks like it would have been a bit of fun by comparison.

The wineries had to suffice instead. Mmmm, booze. And — very surprisingly for a country town — Benalla’s art gallery was really excellent.

BTW, this bloggage is quite funny about the whole “Ned Kelly Country” thing. Just be thankful he didn’t pay the 15 bucks to see Ned Kelly’s Last Stand; it’s the most overpriced, so-bad-it’s-not-even-funny-anymore tourist trap I’ve ever seen. I have a feeling cgregory would just have chucked a heart attack, there and then.


Mr Bowron said the hotel was negligent in ‘Allowing or permitting the use of pork chops as footwear in circumstances that the defendant knew or should have known that such use would have produced a hidden trap and did so produce such hidden trap’.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 12:17:44 +1000
From: Peter Darben (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Carrying on like a . . .

—– (from The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 15.1.02),4057,3591032%255E3163,00.html

Pub sued over greasy floor By LORNA KNOWLES Court Reporter 15jan02

DRUNKEN hotel patron Ross Lucock came up with a novel use for the humble pork chop when the bar manager told him to put his shoes on.

Having just won a meat tray, the prankster strapped two juicy cuts to his feet and paraded around the Jannali Inn, leaving a trail of grease behind him.

About two hours later, another hotel patron, Troy Michael Bowron, walked across the tiled floor and allegedly slipped on pork fat, breaking his arm and shoulder.

The 24-year-old upholsterer is now suing Mr Lucock and the Jannali Inn for more than $260,000 in the NSW District Court.

Mr Bowron alleges the hotel failed to maintain a clean and safe premises for its patrons.

(sig material imminent)

In a statement of claim, Mr Bowron said the hotel was negligent in: “Allowing or permitting the use of pork chops as footwear in circumstances that the defendant knew or should have known that such use would have produced a hidden trap and did so produce such hidden trap”.

Mr Bowron told the court he had lost 15 per cent of the use of his left upper arm as a result of the accident.

The Jannali Inn has filed a cross claim against Mr Lucock and Paul Da Costa, a patron it claims pushed Mr Bowron to the ground.

Mr Lucock, 31, admits he strapped the chops to his feet with masking tape, helped by another man in the bar.

He recalled the chop bones cutting into his feet, telling The Daily Telegraph: “I’ve still got the scars.”

“There was a whole series of hijinx that night, a whole crowd of footballers. What happened, happened.”

Mr Bowron’s barrister Frank Stevens told the court on November 20 1997 a group of drinkers on the second floor of the hotel became rowdy after winning the meat tray.

“It appears there was great joviality among the drinkers . . . following which some person in authority was attracted to that area by the uproar,” Mr Stevens said.

“He pointed out to one of the party that in fact he didn’t have anything on his feet . . . and certain suggestions were made about what to do.

“One of the party strapped some pork chops, which were in the meat tray, on his feet and he started moving around the area in which the pool tables were situated on the second floor.”

Mr Stevens said once handled, pork chops became very greasy.

“Pork fat from the chops became strewn across the floor and made it inherently dangerous for anyone to proceed and walk on that floor,” he said.

Mr Stevens sought to amend his client’s statement of claim, increasing the damages to $260,000.

Judge Anthony Puckeridge told Mr Lucock, who appeared for himself, that he should find himself a lawyer.

“If I was in your position, the red light would be flashing,” Judge Puckeridge warned.

The case was adjourned for directions to February 25.




Wow! Lossy zip compression reduces all files down to 10% or even 0% of their original size! The FAQ:

It utilizes a two-pass bit-sieve to first remove all unimportant data from the data set. Lzip implements this quiet effectively by eliminating all of the 0’s. It then sorts the remaining bits into increasing order, and begins searching for patterns. The number of passes in this search is set to (10-N) in lzip, where N is the numeric command-line argument we’ve been telling you about.

For every pattern of length (10/N) found in the data set, the algorithm makes a mark in its hash table. By keeping the hash table small, we can reduce memory overhead. Lzip uses a two-entry hash table. Then data in this table is then plotted in three dimensions, and a discrete cosine transform transforms it into frequency and amplitude data. This data is filtered for sounds that are beyond the range of the human ear, and the result is transformed back (via an indiscrete cosine) into the hash table, in random order.

Take each pattern in the original data set, XOR it with the log of it’s entry in the new hash table, then shuffle each byte two positions to the left and you’re done!

And you can see, there is some very advanced thinking going on here. It is no wonder this algorithm took so long to develop!

Very impressive! ;) (fwded by Joe on the ILUG list)


Some really useful tips for business travellers in Ireland. These are pure horseshit, by the way:

  • Pointing is accomplished by using the head or chin, rather than the fingers. (jm: if you’re an actor in The Quiet Man, that is)

  • The peace sign or “V” made by extending the index and middle finger with the palm facing out, is an obscene gesture in Ireland and should be avoided.

  • If you are referred to as “plain,” there is no need to take offense; this is actually an affectionate term, meaning that you are “one of” the Irish. (jm: never heard of anything even vaguely similar to this)

And these were probably true about 30 years ago:

  • Welcome Topics of Conversation: drink; the economy, especially positive aspects; the weather – be aware that rain is viewed positively here (jm: since when?!)

  • You will find that potatoes are a very important part of meals in Ireland. Fish is also popular.

  • Serving bread with meals is not part of Irish culture. You may see an object on the dining table resembling a bread and butter dish, but this is actually a receptacle for placing discarded, boiled potato skins. (jm: no comment needed here I think)


<bigwig> is a really interesting new design for web services. A month or 2 ago, I was thinking about web app languages, like perl/CGI, PHP, servlets, HTML::Mason, etc., and I realised that the big problem was the requirement imposed by the web environment itself; most “interesting” operations often have a UI that needs to take place over several pages, and each page has to

  • unmarshal the user’s CGI params, decode them, check them for insecurity, validity etc.;

  • open the database;

  • perform actions;

  • fill out the HTML template (I’m assuming nobody’s insane enough to still use embedded HTML-in-code!);

  • insert “next step” form data in that template;

  • send that back to the user;

  • save a little state to the database;

  • then exit, and forget all in-memory state.

When compared to most interactive programs now, it’s clear that this is a totally different, and much more laborious, way to write code. The nearest thing in trad apps is the “callback” way to deal with non-blocking I/O, ie. what we used before we could (a) use threads (b) use processes or (c) wrap it up in a more friendly library to do that. It just screams complexity.

<bigwig> fixes that:

Rather than producing a single HTML page and then terminating as CGI scripts or Servlets, each session thread may involve multiple client interactions while maintaining data that is local to that thread.

They call it The Session-Centered Approach.

It gets better. They also include built-in support for input validation, HTML output validation, compilation and compile-time code checking, and it’s GPLed free software. This is really good stuff. Next time I have to write a web app, I’ll be using this.

Found via sweetcode.


I can sympathise with Leonard; I just had a wisdom tooth extracted on Saturday and (argh) have had to give up cigarettes for a few days to avoid the dreaded “Dry Socket” (sadly, this is nothing like a “dry pair“). Dammit, I want a cigarette! Must… resist…

Still, the no cigs and raw-hole-where-a-tooth-was bit is the worst part. The extraction was quite painless.

I considered taking a pic of the offending tooth (complete with plentiful decay and 3, count ’em, 3 roots), but then decided that would completely gross out the fledgling readership.

BTW I do not know why quite a few of the web pages dealing with dry sockets refer to them as “exquisitely painful”. Maybe The Little Shop of Horrors was right about dentists.


Boo. Jon Johansen — the Norwegian teenager who broke the DVD CSS copy protection scheme — has been indicted by the Norwegian “white collar crime unit”. He could get “six months in jail if Johansen gained illegitimate access to data”, and “up to two years in prison for having caused damage by gaining such access or for having done so with a financial motivation.” Found via


NSync dropped from new Star Wars movie: Joey Fatone rang a Florida radio station to say the scene has been scrapped … “because people made a big deal about it. We’re not going to be in it and I’m not going to comment on it any more.”

The movie’s going to suck regardless ;)


Great article at about changing prorities for academia; money-making over public benefit.

In the 1980s, computer scientists at Berkeley … created an improved version of the Unix operating system, complete with a networking protocol called the TCP/IP stack. … In 1992, Berkeley released its version of Unix and TCP/IP to the public as open-source code, and the combination quickly became the backbone of a network so vast that people started to call it, simply, “the Internet.”

Many would regard giving the Internet to the world as a benevolent act fitting for one of the world’s great public universities. But Bill Hoskins, who is currently in charge of protecting the intellectual property produced at U.C. Berkeley, thinks it must have been a mistake. “Whoever released the code for the Internet probably didn’t understand what they were doing,” he says.


You could not make it up. It seems Ballymena councillor Robin Stirling, has accused UTV (Ulster Television) of sending viewers subliminal messages promoting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. From via forteana.

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 19:02:35 -0000
From: Joe McNally (spam-protected)
To: Yahoogroups Forteana (spam-protected)
Subject: The voice of reason

UTV sent subliminal message: DUP man

By Maeve Connolly

A DUP councillor has accused UTV of sending viewers subliminal messages promoting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Ballymena councillor Robin Stirling says Gerry Adams features more prominently in the opening sequence of UTV news bulletins than any other politician and has compiled statistics he claims prove his point.

Mr Stirling has video-tape evidence and freeze-frame photographs of the on-screen images and is prepared to visit Havelock House to meet UTV representatives.

“The figures I analysed and was able to pick out were Tony Blair occupying 3.5 per cent of the screen, as compared to Gerry Adams at 21 per cent,” Mr Stirling said.

In a letter sent to UTV in December, Mr Stirling claimed the station was using ‘perceptual psychology’ similar to that previously employed in undemocratic regimes such as Romania and the former Soviet Union.

Mr Stirling said UTV had reassured him it was changing the graphic sequence, but he dismissed as irrelevant claims it was an “issue of artistic impression”.

“They were very pleasant but they’re not seeing what I’m seeing,” the councillor said.

He said he had not received support from all members of Ballymena borough council when he raised the matter at Monday night’s meeting and produced a three ft by two ft photographic montage to back his argument.

“People’s perception vary depending on their tolerance level.

“There are people on the council who wouldn’t be too worried what appears on their screens. Their idea is if you don’t like it turn it off, but I don’t know if that is really addressing an issue,” he said.

Last night a UTV spokeswoman said the news graphics had no political intentions.

“The montage of political figures which councillor Stirling refers to is not a political statement but an artistic sequence with a comprehensive range of images to ensure no political bias,” she said.

Fellow Ballymena councillor Lexie Scott said he supported Mr Stirling’s right to take issue with what he saw but expressed concern at the council being seen as trying to impose political control over the media.

The Ulster Unionist said the image of Mr Adams comprised approximately one second of a five-second clip and the montage swept over a large number of politicians.

“I think the vast majority of people in Ballymena are unlikely to be unduly influenced by a photograph of any politician, but especially of Mr Adams,” Mr Scott said.

The SDLP’s PJ McAvoy dismissed the matter as “frivolous and trivial”, adding that there were more important matters for Ballymena borough council to discuss.

“I’m sure all television companies do things in a very fair minded way and don’t set out purposefully to provoke,” Mr McAvoy said.

“At the end of the day all these people are prominent figures in the news.

“If some people seem to see a split-second flash of one person more than another I don’t really think it’s worth discussing,” he added.


Here’s that VR tour of an abandoned US ICBM silo which J.G. Ballard mentioned. Don’t mind the authentic 1995 background GIFs, frames, and big navigation buttons; it’s an amazing site, full of great little observations like:

Note that all of the overhead lights in the facility are mounted on shock-resistant springs so that if the complex were bombed, the ground could shake without burning out the lightbulbs.

Kevin Kelm and his co-explorer certainly did their homework and explored the silo thoroughly, and the descriptions read like an adventure game. Very spooky!


Cory at BB does it again… I don’t know where he finds ’em, but the animated GIF cartoons on this page are really neat; hand-drawn, black-and-white manga featuring what appears to be Killer Chicken Man (or something. hmm… I could really do with some subtitles ;).


Caganers, Catalonian shitting figurines, are getting in trouble in a California museum.

Date: Tue, 08 Jan 2002 10:45:29 -0000
From: “Tim Chapman” (spam-protected)
To: forteana (spam-protected)
Subject: Caganers defended

Defecating Figurines Part Of Holiday

Tuesday January 8, 2002 9:40 AM

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Placing statuettes of defecating people in Nativity scenes is a Christmastime tradition so old and so strong in Spain’s Catalonia region that even the Roman Catholic Church here doesn’t dare try to ban it.

When an exhibit of the figurines in a California museum sparked an angry denunciation from a Catholic group in the United States, Catalonians who cherish the tradition came ardently to its defense.

“Unfortunately, there are intolerant people who are offended by any little thing,” Josep Maria Joan, director of the Toy Museum of Catalonia, said Monday. His museum has a permanent collection of the figurines, known as caganers.

Spanish artist Antoni Miralda’s exposition “Poetical Gut” at Copia, a food, wine and arts museum in Napa, Calif., features ceramic figurines of the pope, nuns and angels with their pants down, squatting over their bowel movements.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a 350,000-member group based in New York, has written to the museum’s board of trustees to say it finds the show offensive.

“When it’s degrading, everybody knows it except the spin doctors who run the museums,” the group’s president, William Donohue, said Sunday. In a tradition that dates back to the 18th century, Catalonians hide caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes and invite friends over to try to find them. The figures symbolize fertilization and the hope for prosperity in the coming year, according to Joan.

“It’s really only a game,” he said. “The caganer is not supposed to steal Jesus’ spotlight in the manger scene. But it’s logical that when traditions like this are exported they can be misunderstood.”

An official with the Cultural Heritage department of the Barcelona Roman Catholic diocese, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the tradition as a harmless game for children and indicated the church has no plans to oppose it.

Although the traditional caganer resembles a red-capped Catalonian peasant, Miralda is not the first to depict public figures. Since the 1940s, Catalonians have been making modern renditions of the caganer – including, recently, Osama bin Laden.

For Marti Torrent, founder of the 70-member Association of Friends of the Caganer, the meaning goes deeper than child’s play.

To him, the caganer’s act symbolizes “the fertilization of the earth” and pride in the land of Catalonia, whose inhabitants won the right to speak their own language and govern themselves after the 1939-75 Spanish dictatorship.

“I know that American society is more strict with its religious ideas than we are in Catalonia,” said Torrent, 89, who added that what the caganer does is natural. “Even the king has to do it every day or at least every other day.”


Two Sides of the Sun, from the Guardian via forteana, “How the Sun (UK and Irish tabloid newspaper – jm) cast a two-faced shadow on the eurozone”:

  • UK: Dawn of a New Error: The euro is born. And thank goodness Britain is not part of it. … Sun reporters in London were taken for a ride by the euro.

  • Ireland: Dawn of a New Era: Ireland wakes up to a new era today as the euro is introduced. … in Ireland, the new currency was set to be a huge hit with the public.


good interview with J.G. Ballard:

… consider another of his favourites: “There’s this group that got into a disused American nuclear silo (site now gone, unfortunately – jm). It’s wonderful! You’re taken on a tour and you can choose alternatives. ‘Would you like to look at the missile control room?’, ‘Would you like to see the sleeping quarters?’. It’s straight out of the stuff that I was writing about all that time ago.

“Sites such as these feed the poetic and imaginative strains in all of us who have been numbed by all the Bruce Willis films,” he says. “I’m waiting for the first new religion on the internet. One that is unique to the Net and to the modern age. It’ll come.”


My ghod, the new iMac is the coolest piece of industrial design I’ve seen in a while. Story here (via Boing Boing).


What used to be known as Media Grok before The Industry Standard fell over is now being published again, as Media Unspun. It’ll be free from now until March, then it goes commercial. Here’s hoping it works out.


Drunk men have been lurching into the headquarters of Queensland’s Prostitution Licensing Authority and demanding prostitutes.

Date: Fri, 04 Jan 2002 11:49:35 -0800
From: (spam-protected) (glen mccready)
Forwarded-by: William Knowles (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
cc: (spam-protected)
Subject: 200 metres!

BRISBANE, Jan 4 AAP|Published: Friday January 4, 6:02 PM

Drunk men have been lurching into the headquarters of Queensland’s Prostitution Licensing Authority and demanding prostitutes.

The unwelcome men triggered a security overhaul of the authority, it was revealed today.

Police Minister Tony McGrady said “intoxicated or undesirable males” had regularly turned up at the Prostitution Licensing Authority’s office looking for some action.

Some of the men wanted to hire a prostitute and others were looking for their partners, who they believed worked as prostitutes.

“Some of these males refused to leave the premises and caused minor disturbances,” Mr McGrady said in response to a question on notice.

The incidents happened when the Prostitution Licensing Authority first moved into their offices in suburban Milton 18 months ago.

Mr McGrady confirmed the Milton offices had been upgraded before the Prostitution Licensing Authority moved in, on the advice of state government security experts.

The office had duress alarms, intercom facilities, a fireproof safe and was soundproofed.

Access to the offices through the roof was also sealed off.

The Prostitution Licensing Authority was set up in July 2000 to process the license applications for “boutique” brothels and monitor the legalised sex industry.

Queensland so far only has one legal brothel, operating in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Bowen Hills.

The authority has approved a further three brothels, two in industrial areas of the Gold Coast and another in the southside Brisbane suburb of Yeerongpilly.

Last month, authority chairman Bill Carter said the he was also considering applications for brothels in Townsville, Mackay, the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and Brisbane.

Under state law, legal brothels must not have more than five rooms or employ more than five sex workers.

They must also be at least 200 metres from schools, churches, homes, hospitals and child-minding facilities.

By Barbara Adam


Again, from a nerdy POV. It’s fascinating to discover this old SGI memo on memory leaks and code bloat, mainly because the code sizes they talk about are miniscule, these days.

The window system (Xsgi + 4Dwm) is up from 3.2 MB to 3.6 MB, and the miscellaneous stuff has grown as well.

3.6 Mb for a GUI desktop? Not bad! ;)

Much of the problem seems to be due to DSOs (jm: dynamic shared objects, aka shared libraries/DLLs) that load whole libraries instead of individual routines. Many SGI applications link with 20 or so large DSOs, virtually guaranteeing enormous executables.

As far as I know, this is still the case on most popular OSes.

Interestingly, I used both IRIX 4.0.x and 5.2 — and I preferred 5.2. Could have been the hardware, though. But anyway — the bottom line is, things have only gotten bigger and bloatier since then.


On a more nerdy tip, Joel talks about those days when you just can’t get started, under the title “Fire and Motion”. Here’s a choice quote:

Think of the history of data access strategies to come out of Microsoft. ODBC, RDO, DAO, ADO, OLEDB, now ADO.NET – All New! Are these technological imperatives? The result of an incompetent design group that needs to reinvent data access every goddamn year? (That’s probably it, actually.) But the end result is just cover fire. The competition has no choice but to spend all their time porting and keeping up, time that they can’t spend writing new features. Look closely at the software landscape. The companies that do well are the ones who rely least on big companies and don’t have to spend all their cycles catching up and reimplementing and fixing bugs that crop up only on Windows XP.

The sales teams of the big companies understand cover fire. They go into their customers and say, OK, you don’t have to buy from us. Buy from the best vendor. But make sure that you get a product that supports (XML / SOAP / CDE / J2EE) because otherwise you’ll be Locked In The Trunk . Then when the little companies try to sell into that account, all they hear is obedient CTOs parrotting Do you have J2EE? And they have to waste all their time building in J2EE even if it doesn’t really make any sales, and gives them no opportunity to distinguish themselves. It’s a checkbox feature — you do it because you need the checkbox saying you have it, but nobody will use it or needs it. And it’s cover fire.


“Monster waves” — ocean waves of 100 feet and more in height, not caused by seismic activity — may be explained by a new theory from researchers at the Technical University in Berlin.

“Even in the tank the effect was awe-inspiring,” said Prof Clauss. “The exploding wave was so powerful that it broke through the ceiling of the building in which the tank is located,” he added.

Impressive — but I’m pretty sure there’s been eyewitness accounts of bigger waves than the ones mentioned (120 feet), as well. I wonder if the theory can account for those?

Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 12:38:53 -0800
From: Brian Chapman (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected) (spam-protected)
Subject: Mystery of monster waves solved

Sunday Telegraph | 6 Jan 2002

Mystery of monster waves solved By Tony Paterson in Berlin

GERMAN scientists claim to have explained the mystery behind so-called monster waves – the term given by oceanographers for near-vertical breaking seas up to 120ft high. Such seas are thought to have sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships without trace during the past two decades.

Often dismissed as sailors’ yarns, monster waves have terrified seafarers for centuries and provided the raw material for countless novels and films including Sebastian Junger’s recent best-seller The Perfect Storm.

Yet until now scientists and oceanographers had been unable to determine exactly what formed such gigantic “one-off” seas that are capable of breaking a 600ft-long ship in half and sending it to the bottom within seconds.

A team of oceanographers at the Technical University in Berlin has now managed to explain the phenomenon with the aid of computers and by simulating monster waves in a tank.

“Our wave experiments have proved for the first time that monster waves are physically possible and that they really do exist,” said Prof Gunther Clauss, who led the team of scientists.

“This represents a breakthrough for the shipping and oil industries because we can now start to design structures that can cope with these monsters,” he added.

Using a computerised, hydraulically powered wave-making machine in a specially designed tank supplied by oceanographers at Hanover University, Prof Clauss’s team has established that monster waves can occur with little or no warning.

The waves are created in a storm when slow-moving waves are caught up by a succession of faster waves travelling at more than twice their speed. “What happens then is that the waves simply pile up on top of each other to create a monster,” said Prof Clauss.

“The result is an almost vertical wall of water which towers up to 120ft in height before collapsing on itself. Any vessel caught by one of these has little chance of surviving.”

Photographs of the experiments show the monster wave building into a vertical wall of water before exploding into an uncontrollable boiling mass as it collapses on itself.

“Even in the tank the effect was awe-inspiring,” said Prof Clauss. “The exploding wave was so powerful that it broke through the ceiling of the building in which the tank is located,” he added.

Monster waves are thought to have caused the loss of at least 200 “super carriers” or ships measuring more than 600ft in length on the world’s oceans over the past 20 years. The unexplained disappearance of many smaller vessels including trawlers and yachts could put the total number of losses much higher.

Yet accounts by seamen who have witnessed such waves are comparatively rare. One, dating from 1995, was when the QE2 was hit by a hurricane on a crossing to New York.

She survived what was estimated to be a 95ft high wave which the ship took directly over her bow. Her captain, Ronald Warwick, described the phenomenon as “like going into the White Cliffs of Dover”.

One of the few small-boat sailors to survive a monster wave was the British yachtsman, Brigadier Miles Smeeton, who did so twice. His 50ft ketch, Tzu Hang was dismasted twice by such waves while attempting to round Cape Horn in the 1950s – once after being “pitchpoled”, toppled stern over bow.

In Germany, the horrors of monster waves have been brought right up to date after revelations about the near-sinking of the German Antarctic cruise liner Bremen in the south Atlantic last year. The ship with 137 passengers aboard was hit by a 114ft wave in March while heading towards make Rio de Janiero after an Antarctic cruise.

The impact smashed windows on the bridge and cut the ship’s electricity supply. The vessel drifted engineless for more than half an hour heeling at an angle of 40 degrees in huge seas whipped by hurricane-strength winds.

“I have been at sea for 48 years, but never have I experienced such a wave,” said the Bremen’s captain, Heinz Aye, 65, who is now retired.

Prof Clauss said that his team’s research would help naval architects in their efforts to construct ships and oil platforms that were capable of withstanding such freak wave forces.

“In many cases it is as simple as building a bridge on a ship that is not slab-sided but rounded, so it can cope with being hit by a monster wave. Most ships plying the oceans right now are not built along these lines,” he said.

The team also hopes that its research will help in the development of radar that is specifically designed to warn of sea conditions that could produce the monster-wave phenomenon.

“This could help the captains of ships to steer clear of a danger area, but the truth is we can do nothing to prevent monster waves. They are a product of nature,” Prof Clauss added.


Mmmmm….. Marmite. “It must be spread thinly. T-h-i-n-l-y…”

We now, thanks to various visitors from the other side of the world, have 4 large jars of the stuff. Looks like we’ll be lugging it around for a while. yum.


Ever wonder if computer industry analysts were, quite simply, for sale to the highest bidder? Wonder no more, courtesy of the latest MS leak via the Register:

  1. The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free. To that effect, we’ll have an independent analysis commissioned by DH Brown … The DH Brown report will be customer ready and will help your customer understand just how competitive Microsoft is in this arena.

  2. The second wave will be a full blown cost analysis comparison case study between Linux and Windows in a variety of usage scenarios (web, file and print, etc.) done independently by the analysts for us. ETA for this tool is in May and it will be a great tool to help you sell the value of Windows solutions over Linux. …

(emphases on will added by jm.)


It’s alleged that 10 midwives at Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward have been holding nitrous oxide and tamazepam parties at work. Those nurses have all the fun!

Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 09:14:22 +1000
From: Peter Darben (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Umm . . .

—– (from The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 31.12.01),4057,3512875%255E3163,00.html

Midwives ‘partied’ as babies were born



TEN midwiveshave been stood down or shifted from Wollongong Hospital’s maternity ward over allegations they have been holding laughing gas drug parties at work.

The Illawarra Area Health Service has launchedan investigation into illegal drug use among midwives, and one doctor, who are alleged to have been inhaling nitrous oxide — known as laughing gas — and swallowing sleeping tablets while on duty.

The Daily Telegraph has been told the drugs were taken during frequent parties at the hospital, held inside empty birthing rooms while babies were being delivered next door.

A junior nurse brought the practice to the attentionof hospital authorities on December 11, claiming that one of the parties was held inside a birthing room on December 9.

While two women were in labour with premature babies, three of the four midwives on duty were partying with nitrous oxide, an anaesthetic gas which promotes feelings of euphoria and can cause hallucinations.

The junior staff member is said to have been horrified by the behaviour, which had the potential to put patients at serious risk — particularly during birth complications.

Authorities investigating the drug parties arebelieved to have been handed a photograph of one of the events, held during July.

It is believed some senior maternity ward staff have been implicated.

Since the investigation began last month, those who are not facing the accusations have been subjected to bullying from the alleged ring leaders, urging them not to co-operate.

A caution was issued to all maternity ward staff against harassment and intimidation – and one staff member who flouted the order was stood down on December 19.

Two days later, on December 21, that nurse and five of her colleagues were stood down and four were moved to other areas of the hospital.

Investigators examining the hospital’s drug records are understood to have uncovered unusually high usage of nitrous oxide and temazapam in the maternity ward.

This supports their belief that the parties have been something of a tradition at the hospital, rather than a one-off incident.

Yesterday, Illawarra Area Health Service chief executive Dr Tony Sherbon confirmed that an investigation into “unprofessional conduct” at Wollongong Hospital’s birthing unit had led to disciplinary action.

“The Illawarra Area Health Service executive and Wollongong Hospital managers are deeply concerned about this serious breach of conduct,” Dr Sherbon said.

“The decision to stand down midwives was made on December 21 following allegations they had misused nitrous oxide while on duty.

“There are also concerns about the high use of the sedative temazapam in the birthing unit and that investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

Dr Sherbon said the NSW Nursing Association and Nurses Registration Board had been advised of the decision to stand down the midwives.

And “a thorough review of all recent births at Wollongong Hospital has not shown any link between the use of nitrous oxide and any adverse outcomes for any mothers or babies”.


Incompetent websites, part 43985943. Waider @ ILUG notes:

It’s a moot point at this stage, but am I the only person (well, other than whoever fixed the problem) who noticed that the euro countdown on was, until some time this morning, counting down to midnight Dec 30/31 as opposed to midnight Dec 31/Jan 1?



Where does the smell of rain originate from?

If you’ve wondered why the ground, or the road smells a bit odd when it rains after a long dry spell, wonder no more… The smell is given off by Streptomyces bacteria, a genus belonging to the Actinomycetales order of Gram-positive eubacteria, also called actinomycetes.

The bacteria grow in damp, warm earth before fine weather dries out the soil, which then blows around as dust. During a dry spell, actinomycetes produce spores that are released on contact with moisture. Rain hitting the ground kicks up an aerosol of water and soil and you breathe in fine particles of soil containing the bacteria.

Cool! via


Jeff Bone points out Lingua::Romana::Perligata, a Perl module … that makes it possible to write Perl programs in Latin. A plausible rationale for wanting to do such a thing is provided, along with a comprehensive overview of the syntax and semantics of Latinized Perl.


#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use Lingua::Romana::Perligata;
maximum inquementum tum biguttam egresso scribe.
meo maximo vestibulo perlegamentum da.
da duo tum maximum conscribementa meis listis.
dum listis decapitamentum damentum nexto
fac sic
nextum tum novumversum scribe egresso.
lista sic hoc recidementum nextum cis vannementa da listis.

The mind boggles.


Blade director Steven Norrington is planning to direct a movie of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore’s fantastic comic. This should be bizarre — Victorian superheroes, in authentic period style, filmed by a hyper-Hollywood director (going by Blade at least).

I wonder if they’ll take out all the accurate 19th-century colonialist bigotry: “the inscrutable Chinee” etc.?

BTW — went to see Lord of the Rings last night, totally fantastic. The interpretation was spot on too, and some of the CGI effects (Saruman’s tower!) were just incredible! Well happy with that — best movie of the year by far. And the “over-celtic” criticism noted before just doesn’t stand up IMO.

Only fault I could have is the slightly sluggish first bit (but I suppose LoTR novices need a bit of explanation), and (as Lukage pointed out via private mail) the “breakdancing Gandalf” sequence. Well, also, the elves were a bit super-fey but I guess that’s unavoidable.


Buzkashi — “Goat-grabbing” — is back in Kabul.

Horses’ hooves thundered, the crowd roared with excitement – and the carcass of a headless goat hit the playing field with a sodden thump. In a spectacle not seen since pre-Taliban times, the ancient Afghan sport of buzkashi returned to Kabul on Friday.

Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2001 06:29:12 -0600
From: “Webmaster” (spam-protected)
To: “Forteana” (spam-protected)
Subject: Goat Polo,1597,322586-412,00.shtml

Goat Polo In Liberated Kabul

Afghan National Sport Returns After Taliban Leave

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 28, 2001

(AP) Horses’ hooves thundered, the crowd roared with excitement – and the carca ss of a headless goat hit the playing field with a sodden thump. In a spectacle not seen since pre-Taliban times, the ancient Afghan sport of buzkashi returne d to Kabul on Friday.

Thousands of avid spectators perched atop mud-brick walls, clambered onto truck beds and stood balanced on bicycle seats to watch two teams of whip-wielding ho rsemen fight a running duel up, down and across a dusty field surrounded by rui ned buildings in the center of the Afghan capital.

“We haven’t seen this game played in more than five years,” said a grizzled fan , Ulam Siddiq, who was rooting for the Kabul home team. “It’s part of our cultu re, and we’re very happy to have it back again.”

Buzkashi – which means “goat-grabbing” in the Dari language widely spoken in Af ghanistan – is not a pastime for the faint-hearted.

Leaving aside any squeamishness about the “ball” – that would be the decapitate d goat – the game involves no-holds-barred combat, waged at full gallop, to wre st control of the carcass from the rival team. Gashes and broken bones are comm on; spills commonly send riders and horses alike tumbling.

Being a spectator at a buzkashi match isn’t all that much safer. Every few minu tes, the watching crowds scattered and fled as groups of horsemen plowed wildly into the sidelines, whips clenched in their teeth.

The object of the game is to try to snatch the 150-pound carcass from the cente r of the field and carry it to the scoring area. Only the most skilled players – known as “chapandaz” – manage to get the goat. And keeping it can be even har der.

Traditionally, the game is played at festive times like the start of the new ye ar, or at Afghan wedding parties, when matches lasting days would sometimes be staged. Organizers said this match was meant to celebrate the inauguration of A fghanistan’s new interim government six days earlier.

Like so much else in Afghanistan, the sport has particular ethnic associations. Buzkashi is most popular in the north, where it is thought to have originated among Turkic-Mongol peoples, and is primarily played today by Uzbeks, Turkmen a nd Tajiks.

Horses and players alike undergo years of training before they are allowed to t ake to the field. During Taliban rule, the best-known players fled into exile i n Pakistan or were bottled up in the small slice of territory held by the oppos ition northern alliance.

“Our best horses and our best players are not back yet,” player Sayeed Ashi sai d just before the match began, seated astride a chestnut horse with a brightly patterned saddle blanket. “But we’re proud to resume this tradition – it’s our national game, and we love it.”

Milling among the spectators Friday were dozens of Kalashnikov-toting northern alliance soldiers, some in camouflage uniforms. They hooted and applauded along with the rest of the crowd – and quickly dodged, along with the others, when a knot of thundering horseflesh headed their way.

The two teams – one from Kabul, the other from the rugged Panjshir Valley

  • bat tled to a 9-9 draw, but the crowd enthusiastically applauded the

goal-scoring o f both. Organizers said matches would be held regularly in the capital from now on.

While the mood at the buzkashi field was festive and no serious injuries were r eported, recent days have seen renewed interest in blood sports long popular in Afghanistan and long criticized by international groups. Cock-fighting and dog -fighting, both banned by the Taliban, are once again taking hold in around Kab ul.

“It’s part of the long story of our country, fighting,” said Siddiq, the buzkashi fan. “For now, it is fine to have it only on the playing field.”