It was only a matter of time before this happened - a genetically-screened baby, au la Gattaca. The moral/ethical questions have barely been explored by general society... of course, the great unwashed can't grasp even simple philosophy. They've got bugger all chance of really being able to explore this one. Yes, yes, I'm being an intellectual bigot again.

The fight goes on. If Morpheus Is Illegal, So Is The Rest Of The Net - EFF. Basically it's being pointed out that the argument that file sharing applications are illegal because they encourage piracy applies to the entire 'net; not to mention Micro$oft and other companies involved in getting the user to the files. With all the finger pointing going on, this whole issue seems like it'll just end up so completely mired in legal battles nobody will know what's going on anymore. I'm sure none of the record companies will go broke in any case; and they're still screwing the artists as hard as they can. It's not like anyone's going to be sympathetic to their cause.

Warning on students' Internet porn filters - ... the story should have been titled "poorly informed people rely on technology instead of supervising the kids properly...again". Besides that, I don't like the idea that kids' access will be censored for material considered "inappropriate". At my high school, that would have meant just about anything which wasn't an encyclopedia or rugby site - they didn't like us to think for ourselves, you see.

So. Damn. Cool. - the music from all your favourite games (old and new). Being one of the many geeks of the world who has recorded game music (Monkey Island, Rise of the Dragon, tracks out of Jaguar XJ220, etc etc) this one floats my boat.

Here I am thinking that the lawyers were going back to traditional methods: Man who killed intruder with samurai sword won't be charged. Let's think about that one. Man kills intruder with samurai sword. Bet the crim didn't see that one coming. Apparently four guys came into the man's home armed with sticks and iron bars; so I guess he decided to even the odds a bit. That's one hell of a deterrent for future burglars - "Beware of sword-wielding guy who would like you to leave now."

Looks like the inquest into the Big Day Out death is getting to the finger-pointing stage: Big Day Out boss warned, inquest told. At the gig, someone apparently shouted at Ken West (one of the organisers) "You don't care about the crowd, you just care about profit.". For one thing, I don't think shouted insults go far in an inquest; but besides that it's hardly a surprise to anyone who's been to the BDO. The event has got too big. Prices have skyrocketed - tickets, food, drinks, etc - while the amenities, security and safety measures have not changed. In some cases, they've been getting worse. You have to really want to see the bands to go - even then, you're painfully aware of how badly you're getting ripped off.

The law is an ass. The latest proof is this case: The 17th century king who's fighting e-mail pornography. Ahh, yes. The tried and true method of the legal industry - no laws to use now? Go back a few centuries and see what hasn't been repealed! For once it's being used for a reasonably good cause; but it always bothers me when a poorly informed moron like Alston goes galloping into the fray. "Ban Everything" is usually the resulting strategy.

In an infuriating but unsurprising move, it looks like the record industry has decided to get blatant about how much they rip artists off. Having taken the high moral ground during the anti-napster wars, pushing the argument that it deprives artists of revenue, some companies have now unveiled their own version(s) of napster-style utils. Under the payment system, artists are likely to get 0.23c - yes, 0.23 of one single cent - for every download: Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed.

"Harry Potter is evil! Harry Potter teaches kids to do magic!" they cry. The children will be corrupted! Argh! We must burn everyone at the stake, it's the only christian thing to do! In response to such attitudes, one guy decided to attempt to cast spells according to all available information in Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons books. Extremely amusing, plus from the looks of it nothing got set on fire or transmuted. Perhaps HP and D&D are just books after all, eh?

A long time goal of light rail has been to tap the power of magnets to float heavy vehicles with a mimum of energy. Current mag-lev systems rely on electromagnets which suck down a lot of juice. But now an inventor claims to have created a new magnetic rail technology which uses normal magnets. Tres cool.

Definitely one of the most insane computer mods I've ever seen - Hard Drive Mod, where they cut a window into the top of a hard drive so you see the platters and spindle in action. Seriously cool, but I'm amazed this mod doesn't kill the drives - it doesn't take much dust to totally nuke a hard drive. also have a hdd window mod page which is less casually written - more attention to detail and general stressing about dust :)

Google may be the best search engine, but I think they've done themselves a nasty with their Programming Contest. One of the clauses/conditions of entry basically translates to any and all entries being handed over to Google for unlimited use (including selling the code/concepts) even if they don't win. I have to agree with some of the posts in the dicussion group - it seems that Google's found a great way to get a whole lot of code for free; and one particularly sweet bit of code for what translates to petty cash at the coporate level. Google is yet to respond to the criticism, AFAIK.

it's all ironic

One for the "it must have been a seriously boring weekend" files... Irony and Ignorance, an entire paper devoted to defending Alanis Morissette's song Ironic and attempting to prove that people who criticised her usage of the word are ignorant. I can only assume they wrote the essay for the hell of it, as people usually make a note if it was submitted as some kind of academic work.

How did I come across this gem? I made an aside about it in something I wrote in the middle of the night three years ago. The author found it, quoted it, wrote a snide remark and picked on the fact that I misspelled her name. Then they emailed me to let me know my page had been "reviewed" :)

Well I stand corrected - it's Morissette, double-s. My life is complete. However, I still think she was using what the author calls the "surface" meaning of ironic; and using it incorrectly. Honestly, I'm stunned that this person couldn't find a better topic to massage their pseudo-intellectual ego with. But then, I was picking on newsreaders' pronunciations so who am I to talk? :)

Update 2004.12.13: They're tenacious, I'll give them that. Years on and their page has been updated to include this post in addition to the original post on my homepage. Plus they continue attacking typos - clickclick, fixed now, thanks - since that's the sure sign of a razor wit. I'd forgotten about the entire thing until I noticed the site in this blog's referrer logs.

Since I'm here... Let's have a look at something you've said: People who have little or no understanding of irony could certainly choose a better topic than irony to lecture people about. Since you're a nitpicker of impressive proportions, I'd like to question your usage of the word "lecture". As recommended I have checked the definition of this word in several sources and found that - barring one suspiciously brief definition - "lecturing" is defined as a lengthy discourse on a given topic. I made a one-line aside. Given that you are able to produce an extended discussion on irony, I'm guessing you're not afflicted with an attention deficit disorder which would make a one-liner seem like an extended discussion. So I can only conclude that you are wrong. Look it up, sheesh, I mean wrong is wrong.

Oh and yes, I did imagine you only spent a weekend on your essay. I'd expect flatmates to step in and drag you away from the computer after that. Then perhaps a nice cup of tea and an explanation that perhaps, just perhaps, one might think a pop song would use the most popular meaning of a word; not a particular meaning known only to those who have studied the concept at length. So perhaps you are right, but given the context YOU are the one conferring an imagined academic exercise on the part of Ms Morrissette. I don't think she sat there yelling "hot damn! I can get some hyperbole in here!" To put this another way: I suspect it is nothing more than a happy accident that what Morrissette has described as "ironic" actually is ironic.

Finally, I don't think an extended discussion of a pop song is in any way more valid or useful than critiquing the habitual mispronunciations of certain words by newsreaders. People watch the news every day and confer authority to the faces who tell them of the day's events. As such, news outlets directly influence the way people see the world and the way they describe it. At the end of the day, nobody thinks Alanis is an authoritative source of knowledge.

On the other hand, you have quoted me alongside The Washington Post, the BBC and Moby (who actually has opinions worth knowing about); so I am rather pleased at the company my page is keeping.

But alas, time is short and I must be off. Time to eat, shoot and leave. You see, on one level I agree - wrong is wrong, and it does appear that Alanis can be proven right. The problem is that I doubt Alanis could do it.

Lord Of the Games - an interesting story about iD software's John Carmack. Serious code geek, gaming legend, avid standards supporter... plus a very smart businessman. iD has stayed small despite proportionately huge revenue. "All we could get out of growth is more money," says Mr. Carmack, a multimillionaire. "More money is not a major motivator for me." Now that's unusual.