Saturday, July 31, 2004

Digital Divide

A number of years ago in college, I wrote an essay about the role of technology exclusion in society. This internetworking thing was only really starting to get going and we had just changed over the web browsers at the college from Mosiac to Netscape, I used to surf the web in 16 shades of grey available on my battered PowerBook 165, when I jacked into the JANET network.

Why am I rambling about a geriatric computer and the 'net before Google? Well, I used the web to research my essay and came across an article on the Washington Post about the 'cash ghetto', increasingly if you had to deal in cash you were on the margins of society. An article in the Arizona Daily Star, which my RSS feed aggregator picked up talked about the pervasive nature of Visa and MasterCard where cash was once king reminded me of the college essay. Interesting reading check it out.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Feature Creep
First of a regular column by Gizmodo features ebooks and why they have failed to fulfil their potential. Hopefully they will cover Tablet PCs next.
Entrepreneurship - no thanks we're British

There is an interesting article Sunk before they've even begun in the July/August issue of Real Business magazine regarding the effect of student debt on entrepreneurship. The article, was interesting because it touched on a seldom visited area, a number of articles have already been written to the effect that fewer students are going to go forward to caring professions, creative sectors or push the boundaries of knowledge because of the weight of the debt compared to their likely earning potential. According to the article, little research has been done in the area but empirical evidence would tend to indicate that student debt (which has risen considerably) has produced graduates who are less likely to innovate or take risks.

One of the key reasons why this is occurring is that while UK universities are wanting to become like their generously private funded US counterparts, the universities are not holding up their side of the bargain. In the US, universities provide a wide and deep network of contacts for students and have close relationships with sources of venture funding. Something that UK academics provide a sketchy infrastructure that is a shadow of the facilities available to American students.

In addition, the UK has nothing equivalent to the veterans programme where the poorest members of society can go to college after a minimum amount of time spent in military service. If I was going to college now instead of ten years ago (after I had been made redundant in the downstream oil industry), I would not have been able to afford it and would be pushing boxes around a warehouse.

The UK stock exchange already underperforms the US stock exchanges because we have so few young entrepreneurs coming through like Michael Dell, Jerry Yang and David Filo or Larry Page. By giving into the free market demands of the further education sector Labour may have sown the seeds for further underperformance of the UK economy in the long term.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Can I be bothered trawling through the Google filings when someone from the Washington Post and assorted equity analyst will give up the juicy bits anyway? No. This Washington Post article here is of interest. Whilst I wont be buying the stock I will be bookmarking their virtual roadshow page.
What do I think?
- Sergei Brin and Larry Page are very smart people, yep, even smarter than me
- The auction and high price is reducing the chance of an internet bubble and ensuring that the offer makes Google rich and its Googleers rather than merchant banks, Wall Street insiders, 'friends of Frank'
- Their split capital structure means that they are building to last rather like the European families like the Quandt's who run BMW or the Wallenbergs in Sweden, rather than just another corporate monolith
- If anyone stands a chance of not being ran over by Steve Balmer and his purile pranksters, its Mssrs Page and Brin because they are customer focused rather than competitor focused

Sociology more than just a qualification for a McJob

One of my colleagues has been doing research on an issues management campaign in the offing and came across SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre), an Oxford based organisation with lots of useful articles on their site. Apparently they spawned the term 'white van man'.

And they don't ask you if you want fries with your web page.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Big Brother Awards

Just came back from a cheap, but worthy night out. I took my friend Jonathan to see Privacy International's Big Brother Awards, held at the London School of Economics and compared by Mark Thomas. The venue was a student bar with a glass roof rather like the Hac. A few hardy souls turned up as spooks a la MAD's Spy Vs Spy comic strip. Anyway the winners were

- Most invasive company BG (British Gas)
- Worst public servant Margaret Hodge
- Most appalling project NHS IT electronic patient record system
- Most heinous government organisation Office of National Statistics
- David Blunkett Lifetime Menace Award US VISIT programme

Full details can be found here
Half Man Half Biscuit Revisited

I got introduced to Half Man Half Biscuit in college, whilst I am not into guitar bands their lyrics had a Birkenhead sense of humour. I revisited they body of work whilst sorting out an old box of records. They are still going and have a few tours coming up this summer. Classics include Dickie Davies Eyes and I hate Nerys Hughes.
Apple Goes Moto? Don't believe the hype

Motorola and Apple have agreed to bring the iTunes jukebox and music service to mainstream Motorola phones. Interesting deal by Apple invading the mobile music player space that RealNetworks has called its own. Will this service work on Microsoft powered Motorola phones or is this deal just a pile of hot moto like the Motorola Palm phone agreement and Symbian involvement? Also, how will this fit with Motorola's close relationships with carriers? iTMS is a direct competitor with carrier mobile portals and music download services a la 3's walled garden offering, Orange World, O2 Active and Vodafone Live. Expect nothing to happen after the operators pimp slap Moto into submission and send them back to turn tricks in the PAYG part of the phone showroom.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Viral Marketing Part II

Earlier in the month we wrote about the
CDC Atlanta collectors cards of viruses (or should that be viri?)

Not to be outdone, toy makers have struck back with
giant microbes in plush fur including flu, black death and ebola.
New Star Wars Film Gets Lucas Seal of Approval

Escape from Tatooine was the winner of Atom Films Star Wars short competition this year, picked by George Lucas himself. Personally it is not a patch on TROOPS which we featured the other day. However, all you comic/sci-fi/fantasy geeks out there can watch this while you lust after Revenge of the Sith, or you could get a life instead.
Bloggers & the Democratic National Congress
Cynthia Webb's Filter column at The Washington Post has an interesting article by Robert MacMillan on the rise of bloggers as a media force to reckoned with at the Democratic Party Congress. Maybe its because the liberal media (meagre though it is) want the blogger militia to take on Murdoch's Fox red coats because no one else can stop them.
Pirsig in his book Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance talks about an argument where with his university board on the nature of quality. He compares the argument to a buffalo is damned if he takes either of two possible stances ending up being impaled on its horns, he could reject the fight (going between the two horns and cracking them on the head) or he could sing the buffalo to sleep. In the UK, New Labour after three election defeats successfully sang the NewsCorp buffalo to sleep, maybe the Democrats should take a similar pragmatic approach?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Another Close Encounter

I am too young to remember Close Encounters when it first came out at the cinema. I remember watching it in the mid 1980's round at a friends house whilst playing hookie from school. I quite liked it but my peers preferred the American Ninja series, The Octagon, The Hitcher and Governor Schwarzenegger's early action movies.

I borrowed it from Blockbuster, using their 3 for 5GBP for a week offer that applies to slightly older DVDs.

I was blown away. This film was made in 1977, and yet it is so visually rich, it makes CGI films look sterile in comparison, its hard to believe this was done with smoke effects neon lit rigs and painted backgrounds. The concept, the acting from the assorted Indians, hill-billies and cops, Richard Dreyfus, to the little Cary Guffy, the little boy that Dreyfuss almost runs over in his power company pick-up.

Rx R Us

According to the New York Times (free registration required) George Bush is seeking to block medical legal cases brought against the manufacturers of FDA approved products. This is a dangerous move as scandals such as Opren the anti-inflamatory drug and Thalidomid are extreme examples of 'the ones that got away' in a regulatory system that fails quite a lot of the time. Because of the nature of spending on medical treatment this will impact the most on babies, children, women and older people.

According to research done by the United States General Audit Office in their report FDA Postapproval Risks 1976 - 1985 51.5 per cent of FDA approved drugs approved during this nine-year period showed serious postapproval risks that meant they had to be relabelled or withdrawn from sale. Serious postapproval risks were defined as adverse reactions that could lead to hospitalization, increases in the length of hospitalization, severe or permanent disability, or death.

This has the potential to impact on the UK and Europe as this US administration has been known to throw its weight around to steamroll through uniform trade orientated legislation to match their own standards.

The second link is a report on electronic patient record privacy in the US that raises some interesting issues including the fact that online records have brought a better definition to privacy, but that has not mean't existing standards.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Frankie Knuckles Day

Today is Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago. From Wikipedia:

Frankie Knuckles (born January 18,
1955 as Frank Warren Knuckles Jr.) is a DJ, producer and remix artist. He has earned the appellation "The godfather of house music."

Born in New York City he was educated at the Dwyer School of Art and went on to study textile design at FIT in Manhattan. It was while studying at FIT he began working as a DJ, playing soul and R&B at Better Days and then at The Gallery with Larry Levan and then at Sound Factory. When the Warehouse opened in Chicago in 1977 he was invited to appear on a regular basis until 1982, introduced to house music he took the sound back to New York. After the collapse of his own New York club, the Power Plant, he move into producing and recording. His earliest productions were "Tears" with Robert Owen (later of Fingers, Inc) and Jamie Principle's "Baby Wants to Ride". Knuckles then started a lucrative line in remixing, partnering with David Morales as Def-Mix.
Interfluff Global Brands & Other Stuff

Interfluff has teamed up with Business Week to launch its global brand league table again. The table is avidly read by marketers and loved by journalists as a reference, but how much of it is meaningful. If you auctioned off the brands in the morning how close would you get to the monetary value quoted in the survey. I suspect pennies on the dollar. The vacuous nature of it all was illustrated in Inclusive Branding by Ludlow & Schmidt. In their book they compared the values of brand according to different brand agency rankings and found no correlation, ergo the process is little better than a wild ass guess.

On to the other stuff, I picked up a new 12 on nrk DJ Meri - Everything. The dub mix is the cut for me, nrk comng with the quality deep and tracky stuff. Simply Vinyl have been putting out some interesting sampler 12s in association with indie label V2. For 5.99 GBP you get four quality remixes either in a house, jazzy house or junglist style. They are not the newest, but quality cuts.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

It was too good to last

Slate, one of our favourite Microsoft products is on the sales lot at Redmond according to AP. Full details here. Slate is well written intelligent quality online publication, so obviously doesn't fit in with the Microsoft corporate ethos. And as Bill Gates will probably tell you this Internetworking thing is a bit of a flash in the pan anyway (which is why his ghost writers had to completely rewrite 'The Road Ahead', 12 months after it was originally released.

While we are talking about the 'web here is a link to an interesting article about the challenges of cancelling a service online. The article appeared as part of the consumer watch column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Free registration required.)
Will Wonders Never Cease?

Computerworld ran an interesting article on the social tics that IT workers sometimes may have. Read the real reasons why management are so happy to fire their ass and send their job half way around the world, thus alleviating an immense irritation and providing an opportunity to rack up huge amounts of air miles researching the IT outsourced operation in India, China, whereever. Cost savings, yeah don't believe it, most 'business decisions' are political, outsourcing is the price you pay for wearing 'g3t fr4gg3d', 'I am r00t' or 'I read your email' t-shirts around the office and leeching at the attractive golddigger of a marketing manager the chairman foisted on the company. Remember 'Microsoft Certified' means that you are commodity that can be bought or discarded like a PC.

Stop the press, management board members found to be thinking! Next up, uber brains McKinsey have launched the results have launched their second survey (free registration required) on what C-level execs think. Wait a moment, C-level execs don't have to think, that's the reason why the hired McKinsey? Anyway, the key takeout points are not exactly surprising
  • Generally positive economic outlook particularly from European CEOs, though this has reduced since January due to oil prices, interest rate rises et cetera
  • There is not much scope for price increases, so inflation should be kept under control
  • Increased investment in China and India, though North American execs in particular, are less confident that China's government can continue the steep increase in growth
  • Mixed messages on IT spending, CTOs in Europe are less confident of an upturn in IT spending than the peers in the rest of the world. China and India in particular are looking to be hotbeds of IT spending as they seek to leapfrog the West
Google unleashes more whoop-ass on Microsoft, Gmail the Hotmail killer just got better, list of improvements can be found here. Don't have an account yet? Maybe its because you have no friends to send you an invitation to join, socialise more you'll feel better for it.

The new Blade film Trinity is due out in December, my colleague and Balham's mack daddy Cad Bwoy flagged up the following link. Troubled by the demise of the vampire race, their partners in repression of humans the government go toe-to-toe with the daywalker. Much booty is kicked by Blade! No sign of Whistler though.

Nuu medja prostitutes have a paid for report on the importance of online PR. OK, might they feel online PR is important because they are an online organisation that sells subscription services to PR agencies? Charging for this is like Next charging for their catalogue.

Digital terrorist Orrin Hatch plans to emulate muslim extremist Osama Bin Laden by disrupting Americans basic rights and way of life in pursuit of his own sick and twisted beliefs. Senator Orrin Hatch admitted that he wanted to steamroll through his flawed piece of legislation though Capitol Hill. Unfortunately like Bin Laden he is funded by shadowy supporters as this research shows. Like September 11, deeply engrained systems and a lack of imagination by legislators have prevented government operatives from taking him out, going behind the Lincoln memorial and giving him some high velocity lead poisoning. You can make your feelings known to Orrin by contacting him via his website here.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Telephone Preference Service - Postcard from the trenches

I had an interesting conversation with some friends working in telemarketing. Most of the companies that have signed up to the
TPS are small-to-medium sized businesses. They welcome this as it means that they can pre-filter their prospects, a couple of major names stuck out in the conversation, Moss Bros the tailors and Carphone Warehouse have both signed up their main switchboard numbers.

I found Carphone Warehouse particularly ironic given the amount of calls I have received from them asking me whether I would be interested in signing up to their TalkTalk alternative landline phone company service.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Jack Morton's 360 Degree newsletter

Just a brief posting to flag up a couple of articles from
Jack Morton's 360 Degree experiential marketing newsletter.

Non-traditional tactics and the 2004 election campaign

RFID tagging of conference attendees

Star Wars Web Gem

TROOPS is a witty well crafted 10-minute short done by Star Wars fans. Imagine Imperial Stormtroopers doing a
Cops style reality show with a bit of 'troop brutality' on the jawas, their sandcrawler and Luke Skywalker's guardians having a domestic. Pure class! You can download it here, Quicktime is required for playback.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Night Vision

I got an email from Nick Matthews of Best Kept Secret artist management about a benefit event being put on. While I don't know about the ins and outs of what its all about, the line-up looks really good for a Sunday though I am not too sure that it blows the imgination. Enjoy!

The Place:
The Lodge, 226 Harlesden High Road, Kensal Rise, LONDON, NW10

The Date:
THIS SUNDAY 25th JULY 2004 - 12 hours of music that blows the imigination

The Cause:
...A family in the Peruvian Amazon put a English boy up for some weeks while he was traveling and discovered their child was going blind. A sight saving operation is possible at the cost £3000 pounds. The family - who would take more than a lifetime to save the money - have accepted that their son's fate.... or maybe you can help a miracle take place. .......The travelling boy vowed to come back to England and raise the money...Individuals CAN make a difference to other individuals - one human to another...

The DJ's:

12:00-14:00 – Chris Jay & loungin’ kollective
14:00-15:00 – Phil Asher (Restless Soul)
15:00-16:00 – Solid Groove & Trevor Loveys
16:00-17:00 – Patrick Forge (Da Lata / Kiss 100)
17:00-18:00 – Yam Who?
18:00-19:00 – Daz-I-Kue (Bugz in the Attic)
19:00-20:00 – M.K
20:00-21:00 – Benji B (BBC 1xtra)
21:00-22:00 – Stanton Warriors
22:00-23:00 – Stevie ‘Fela’ Kotey
23:00-24:00 – Stuart Patterson, Frank Tope & Jesse Rose

The 'Dead: Fantastic Free Bootleg Collection

While surfing in search of a copy of Fahrenheit 911, the Michael Moore political film I came across a treasure trove of Grateful Dead bootlegs on their servers. The Dead are part of a US phenomenon of 'jam bands' - people who make their money by touring and sell just enough records for to keep them in the public eye. They did a multitude of cover versions and their concerts were a home from home for acid casualties from the 1960's.

The Dead took a farsighted attitude to the nature of the copyright of their live concerts:

The Grateful Dead and our managing organizations have long encouraged the purely non-commercial exchange of music taped at our concerts and those of our individual members. That a new medium of distribution has arisen - digital audio files being traded over the Internet - does not change our policy in this regard. Our stipulations regarding digital distribution are merely extensions of those long-standing principles and they are as follow:

No commercial gain may be sought by websites offering digital files of our music, whether through advertising, exploiting databases compiled from their traffic, or any other means.
All participants in such digital exchange acknowledge and respect the copyrights of the performers, writers and publishers of the music.
This notice should be clearly posted on all sites engaged in this activity.
We reserve the ability to withdraw our sanction of non-commercial digital music should circumstances arise that compromise our ability to protect and steward the integrity of our work.

Rock on!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Its Oprah Time!

I have been off ill from work the past few days with flu and I had my posts largely pre-written, At the moment I am bored out of my skin and procastinating about getting stuck into my IPR development plan, so I thought a book recommendation would be in order. I recently read Serpico by Peter Maas. Peter's true-life account of officer Frank Serpico's one man fight against corruption in the New York Police Department is a fantastic read. The Al Pacino film sticks pretty close to the book, but thats my recommendation for the moment!
Record Industry Bodies Seeking to Subvert UK Copyright Law

According to Reuters, Elvis Presley's back catalogue starts to become public domain from next year. Music industry fat cats are petrified as they see their revenues from The Beatles and the Rolling Stones start to go south in the near future. Maybe they should have invested in new talent instead? The BPI is trying to put the squeeze on the UK government to secure legislation similar to the Sonny Bono bill in the US, violating existing public rights.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Fantastic Viral Clips

Bainst is a web designer with a sense of humour based around subverting the form of communication. Check out some of his really cool viral videos. The Soul Calibur (a Mortal Kombat type fighting game for hormone crazed teenage boys) characters getting jiggy wid it, rather than taking chunks out of each other and a public service announcement making it clear why tax evasion is your civic duty!
Jargon Watch

URST (said so it rhymes with thirst) - unresolved sexual tension. A device and description used by soap opera script writers describing the relationship (or lack of it) between two characters according to the Late Late Breakfast Show on RTE.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Too Good Not to Include

Fantastic piece of satire by OpenDemocracy which can be found here and below:

Imagine a McKinsey style outfit touting for work amongst the local entrepreneurs, and they were commissioned by Al Queda to produce a report on their struggle.

The SWISH Report
Paul Rogers
14 - 7 - 2004

If al–Qaida had a planning unit that dealt with the consortium's long–term strategy, and if that unit commissioned an independent consultancy to report on al–Qaida's progress to date…might this be the result?

Report from the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics (SWISH) to the al–Qaida Strategic Planning Cell (SPC) on the progress of the campaign


You have asked SWISH to undertake an independent analysis of the progress of your campaign, as of mid–July 2004. The report is for your consideration as the SPC, but may also be shown to elements of the leadership. You have asked us to be candid in assessing current threats and opportunities, and also to suggest changes in strategy that may be appropriate in pursuant of your aims.

A–Q Aims and Context

As we understand it, you have three short–term aims and one long–term strategic objective. The short–term aims are:

• removal of foreign (especially US) forces from the Islamic world, with Saudi Arabia as the priority

• termination of the House of Saud as the unacceptably corrupt and illegitimate Keeper of the Two Holy Places

• establishment of an independent Palestine that may involve the termination of the state of Israel.

We understand that the last aim is a relatively recent addition, and stems from the current nature of the Christian/Zionist axis and the extreme policies of the Sharon government, as well as the manner in which these are overriding your supporters' long–standing mistrust of the Palestinian diaspora in the western Gulf states.

Your long–term aim is the establishment of legitimate Islamic governance, initially in the Arab world but also elsewhere, as a prelude to a wider global conversion.

Your movement has developed from writings and teachings dating back several decades, and was initiated in a practical sense during opposition to Soviet rule in Afghanistan. That campaign was successful, even though it was necessary to obtain support from the United States to ensure that success.

After the 1991 Gulf war, your movement consolidated and evolved principally in western Gulf States, Pakistan and North Africa, but with support in many countries, including a number of western states. You commenced paramilitary actions directed primarily against US interests, including the Khobar Towers attack (1996) and the East African embassy bombings (1998). Associates attempted to destroy the New York World Trade Center in 1993. Other associates succeeded in September 2001 and also attacked the Pentagon.

The timescale for your strategy is not fixed but we assume it to be measured in terms of five decades or more. You are currently near the end of the second decade.

We understand that the 9/11 actions, in particular, had three broad aims:
• to demonstrate the organisation's capacity for major trans–national attacks

• to encourage your supporters and those of associated organisations and increase their recruitment potential, and most importantly

• to incite the United States to mount very large military operations in Afghanistan and in the wider regions of Central and South–West Asia.

Subsequent Developments

Your only substantial failure was that the United States did not engage in major ground force operations in Afghanistan.

It did not therefore provide a basis for a vigorous guerrilla war against an external occupying power (although such an interaction is now developing on a rather smaller scale than that originally envisaged).

Instead, the US used a combination of air power, special forces and the wholesale rearming of Northern Alliance warlord forces, with the latter serving as ground troops. While termination of the Taliban regime was rapid, Taliban militia largely dispersed with their weapons and supplies intact. Where there were direct engagements with US forces, as at Tora Bora, the Taliban and al–Qaida militia acquitted themselves well.

The US has since established two major military bases in Afghanistan as well as others in several Central Asian republics together with a dispersed military presence in Pakistan. Immediately after 9/11, there were few A–Q operatives in Afghanistan as they had already dispersed.

Although the loss of your Afghanistan facilities, and the killing or capturing of a substantial minority of your leadership was significant, your opponents overestimated the costs to A–Q as a result. Many facilities, and many more personnel, were available to take their place. Moreover, A–Q has never been a narrow hierarchical organisation but rather a federation or consortium of like–minded groups with broadly similar aims, able to cooperate on matters such as logistics, paramilitary expertise and finance, and variably willing to adhere to a degree of centralised planning and strategy formulation. We will use the term “consortium” in the remainder of this report.

We note, incidentally, that many of your Afghan bases were primarily concerned with training expatriate militias to support the Taliban in the pursuit of its civil war against the warlords. The loss of your Afghan bases was never going to do terminal damage to the consortium – indeed to believe that it would is to fail to understand the nature of your consortium, let alone your strategy.

The US policy of widespread detention without trial, especially in Afghanistan, Cuba and now Iraq, has been a great help to you and your affiliates. It has been further aided by the systematic use of harassment, sexual humiliation and torture by US forces and their allies.

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan was around 3,000, and in Iraq it is so far about 12,000, with up to 100 civilians still being killed each week. Serious injuries in the two conflicts are likely to have exceeded 30,000. These features of the two conflicts, with close to 50,000 civilians killed or seriously injured, have greatly aided recruitment into your consortium and have also been key factors in enhancing a more global anti–American mood.

Paramilitary Actions

Your consortium has faced severe counter–actions from security and intelligence agencies and special forces in many parts of the world, including targeted assassinations, yet you have maintained an impressive level of activity. This includes attacks in Islamabad, Karachi, Djakarta, Bali, Mombasa, Riyadh, Casablanca and Istanbul. Of particular note was your large and coordinated attack in Madrid, achieved in spite of intense intelligence and security operations by the Spanish authorities. It is true that many other actions have been intercepted. Even so, such actions have served to heighten concern in many western states.

We note your subtle but important change of tactics in Saudi Arabia. Recognising that a chaotic overthrow of the House of Saud would incite immediate US intervention, and that such intervention would delay your longer–term plans by damaging a key economy, you are now engaged in a triple strategy of weakening the presence of western expatriates, avoiding Muslim casualties and, at the same time, infiltrating and influencing Saudi governance from within, utilising the substantial existing support for your aims.

Supporting Factors

You have been aided in your activities by three somewhat unexpected factors, none of them under your control. The first is the increasing importance of satellite TV channels such as al–Arabiya and al–Jazeera, with their ability to deliver uncensored news information into many millions of households.

The second is the particularly militant nature of the Sharon government in Israel together with its close links with the Bush administration. The activities on the West Bank two years ago and in Gaza more recently have been of huge help in gaining you more support across the region and beyond. The refusal of the Sharon government to acknowledge any deference to the International Court of Justice ruling on the barrier, coupled with the deafening silence from Washington, are further aids to your strategy.

The third, and by far the most important, has been the termination of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq followed by the US occupation of the country and consequent insurgency. This has been, purely and simply, nothing less than a gift from heaven, and has been of immense value to the consortium.

It is ironic that the consortium failed to attract the United States into Afghanistan in the manner hoped for, yet the Bush administration achieved the much more significant feat of inserting around 140,000 Americans as an occupying force into the heart of the Arab world. This has been truly an amazing development and of real value to the long–term achievement of your aims.

Even with our perspectives on the incompetence of your opponents, we have to confess our astonishment that the US occupiers in Iraq have been willing to allow Israeli special forces to operate in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. That the US leadership has supported Israel in gaining direct access to an enclave in an Arab country is frankly astounding and further illustrates the fundamental lack of understanding of the current administration in Washington.

Where You Stand – And Why

In terms of the achievement of your aims, your only short–term success has been the substantial withdrawal of US forces from Saudi Arabia, although current paramilitary campaigns in the Kingdom are already having an effect on business and expatriate confidence and are beginning to indicate a core instability. You have not succeeded in effecting change in any other governments in the Islamic world but your prospects in Pakistan are quite good, Afghanistan remains in disorder if not chaos, and Iraq is ripe for change.

You are operating over a timescale of many decades and in such a context progress has been rather good, but it has to be said that this is not entirely down to your own capabilities but largely to the sheer incompetence of your opponents.

Consider the consequences for your strategy if your opponents were to take the following five actions:

• A determined western effort to ensure security in Afghanistan, limit the power of the warlords and aid civil reconstruction. This would need to hugely transcend what is currently envisaged and would be more akin to repeated requests and demands from experienced UN officials, Afghans and independent analysts

• Withdrawal of US military force from Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia coupled with action against the governmental human rights abuses endemic in much of the region

• In Iraq, moves towards a genuine democracy rather than the client regime that has now been installed, coupled with UN oversight of the transition and a rapid decrease in the US military presence. This would be paralleled by an avoidance of recourse to crude market forces and an acceptance of the need for temporarily centralised development planning

• Effective pressure on Israel to concede a peace agreement with a viable Palestinian state

• In parallel with this would be pressure on Arab autocracies to modernise and democratise.

All these, in combination, would present a serious threat to the integrity and viability of the al–Qaida strategy. It is indeed fortunate that none is likely to happen, given the current western political leadership.

At the same time, it does also mean that your current strong position does not primarily stem from your own success. You must therefore guard vigorously against any sense of achievement – too much of it is due to the incompetence of your principle opponent and its British ally.

Indeed, your own statements, with the exception of ObL's statement after Madrid, may have been of use to supporters but have been largely counterproductive in addressing a wider audience of potential sympathisers.

Nevertheless, you are currently in a strong position. This poses an important issue: how can the consortium best ensure the re–election of George W Bush in November? We are not suggesting that a Kerry victory would be a disaster but it would present a less attractive environment for your near–term operations. A Kerry presidency might embrace some of the five dangers just listed. A Bush presidency would not.

On balance, we therefore suggest that you consider short–term tactics designed to aid the Bush campaign. It is possible that another major attack in the US would increase support for a “war president”, but we cannot be sure. What would certainly help him greatly would be the detention or capture of ObL, especially if this could be arranged within a month or so of the election.

Although the martyrdom factor is important, and it would certainly be unwise for him to be taken without a fight (as was Saddam Hussein), we would, on balance, recommend that he allow himself to be detained during a conflict rather than be killed. As a detainee he would be a powerful continuing focus and, if brought to trial, would be in an exceptionally strong position to make significant pronouncements.

Furthermore, given his current state of health and his frequent need to relocate, he could well be assured of a longer life in US custody, unlike almost all other detainees.


We would conclude that your campaign is going well, has some very strong prospects for further progress in Saudi Arabia, is in a good position in Pakistan and has excellent potential for action in Iraq. In the latter case, in particular, the long–term security of Gulf oil is essential to the United States, and withdrawal from Iraq is therefore highly unlikely. This gives you a remarkable opportunity to develop a range of oppositional policies and tactics.

Thus, the future looks bright. We insist, though, that much of this is due to the actions of your opponents and it follows that any actions that you can take to ensure that they persist with their current policies will be to your advantage. The immediate requirement, as we have indicated, is therefore to aid, in any way within the framework of your core values, the survival of the Bush administration.

14 July 2004
South Waziristan
Think Derivative

New iPod, pretty much the same as the old one, that won't stop it selling well though.

Leaked cover of Newsweek courtesy of MSN.

Couture and the Air Marshal

The New York Times and bloggist AdviceGoddess ran pieces on how air marshals are obvious because of the dress code that they have to adhear to.

From the New York Times: Federal air marshals must have neatly trimmed hair, and men must be clean-shaven, the documents say. Some of the service's 21 field offices have mandated that male officers wear suits, ties and dress shoes while on duty, even in summer heat. Women are required to wear blouses and skirts or dress slacks.

Reminds me of spot the CID man at warehouse parties in Blackburn back in the day. They had a distinctive dress code of C&A and BHS easy care polyester clothing items that gave them away, while the drugs squad the mad ones giving it a hundred and ten per cent in front of the strobe lamp.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Making your vote count

Eligible to vote in the forthcoming US elections, but haven't registered yet? Well, you can do here and its easy.

This was a renaissance chambara public service blog.
Customer Service Heroes and villains

Orange turns me green at the gills

One of the things I have learned over the past couple of weeks is that you can't rely on a brand for consistent customer service, only people.

As you may have read, I had
some problems when Three cut my number off. Well credit where credit is due, eventually my problem was dealt with in a most professional and helpful manner by a Scottish customer services lady called Sammy Reynolds.

I decided to move to Orange, they seem on the surface to have their act in gear, WRONG!!! The shop staff near Bond Street tube were happy to sell me a phone but weren't so eager to expedite a swift number port from Three. I eventually called the Orange customer services line and got through to the relevant team, things then got Kaftesque. Orange would not be interested in my number until Three called them. Read Orange was not interested in having my custom in a particularly speedy manner. I had to get Three to call Orange to sort things out. Three had given my number up, yet could not do anything as Orange's systems were down for two days.

Orange did not keep me informed of my progress and dealt with me in a manner that would have impressed a civil servant. This was all happening on the back of me trying to sell my house and my best friend about to give birth. My initial impressions of Orange have been disappointing to say the least. Despite Three facilitating the process as much as possible it still took seven and a bit days to port my number over - this is the minimum standard specified by Ofcom!

Friday, July 16, 2004

BT signs Jeremy Clarkson for ad campaign, wags start their engines
A quick skim of the infospam that comes from various IT news organisations reviewing the weeks news came up with this gem courtesy of the merry pranksters at St Katherines tower:
And finally, everybody's favourite incumbent telco has signed up everybody's favourite jacket-and-jeans wearing braggart for its latest advertising campaign. That's right: BT and Jeremy Clarkson. It's a match made in heaven. One is overblown, often rude and has offended pretty much everybody in the UK at one time or another (wait for it... you'll never guess what's coming next) and the other one used to present Top Gear. Gavin Patterson, BT group managing director, consumer and ventures, said: ?We felt that Jeremy Clarkson was an ideal choice for the whole area of customer service. He?s famous as somebody who doesn?t suffer fools gladly and embodies the straightforward principles we aim to follow in our business." Great, so we can expect BT customer service modelled on the presenting style of Clarkson. "I'm sorry your phone's not working love, have you ever stopped to think it could be because...........[cue long dramatic pause, raise eyebrow to camera and lower tone] .......... you?re a woman." "Is your husband there?..................................Or are you too ugly to have one?" "Aha! Now this really is the Ferrari of phones! Whereas, your current model is very much....................................................... the Skoda" You get the idea. Patterson added: "If these adverts are anywhere near as successful as the famous Bob Hoskins ones then we won?t be doing badly at all.? So Jeremy has his work cut out trying to fill the shoes of Bob Hoskins? That's quite a challenge, not least of all, the Round-Up assumes because Sir Bob (come on, he should be!) probably has pretty small feet.
For our international readership you can find out more about BT here and Jeremy Clarkson. with Good Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I got invited the wedding reception of an ex-colleague. The bash was at the function room of a well appointed pub in North London. The wedding present list was online, ok lists can be a bit assumptive, however this one was cool. The thing that struck me was how well the whole online thing leant itself to wedding presents:

- You don't have wrap the present
- don't worry about bringing it along to the bash
- don't look too mean or extravagant compared to other guests
- they won't get damaged in the traditional family punch-up that happens at these events

Oh yeah, the party was good and all.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Renaissance Chambara in we like Microsoft Product Scandal

Feted not slated

Actually we like three:

- Word 5.1 for the Mac in the early 1990s. A word processor that had a reasonable real world speed and all the features that you still use now. Hell, I still use the Word 5.1 layout in my version of Office X. Stripe out the fat, speed bump it and reinvent Word Mr Balmer - less is more. Your competitors are already doing it, have a look at Nisus Writer Express

- Excel for the mac. Some truths Microsoft made the best spreadsheet, now I realise that thats as contraversal as saying that Poll Tax was a good thing, but I've used alternatives like Lotus 1-2-3, ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, QuattroPro and they sucked. They got kicked because Excel is better - there I've said it

- Number three is MSN's Slate magazine. I had avoided Slate in favour of Salon, partly because I thought that it would have some of the attributes of other Microsoft products:
- bloated
- useless
- lacking in quality
- full of profane language
- low on anything meaningful (like the Microsoft Executive emails)

is actually a damn good read with varied content and a quality of writing that is close to that of the New Yorker, but for a younger audience. Check it out, seriously.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

VC Do's and Don'ts

Eric Dunn, general partner with Cardinal Venture Capital wrote the following guide for pitching VCs. This was originally posted on AlwaysOn:

Figure out what the audience already knows. If you have included a long market overview in your presentation, but are presenting to an industry veteran, you almost certainly win points for skipping quickly through the overview.

Figure out what the audience doesn't know. Conversely, there's no rule against giving a brief introduction before starting your prepared pitch: "Just in case you aren't familiar with the automated test equipment market, let me outline for you the major categories and who the market leaders are…." Then take a few minutes off the cuff.

Explain acronyms and terms of art. Your audience is probably ashamed to ask what the LEAP protocol or the IFX standard is, so unless you are sure that everyone in your audience knows what it means, give them a break.

Track your audience. If you are getting blank stares from the audience, it could mean that they don't understand, or it could mean you're belaboring the obvious. Break stride and ask to find out which it is.

Answer questions crisply. It's better to say "I don't know" or "I'll have to get back to you on that" than to waffle with an incomplete or inaccurate answer.

What Doesn't Work

Unbalanced presentations. Don't succumb to the temptation to dwell on your personal area of expertise. A dozen slides on the technical attributes of the product, or on the details of the proposed sales organization, is almost certainly too much.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Although your audience will cut some slack for non-native-English speakers, there's really no reason not to get this stuff right.

Math errors. Not fatal, but math mistakes definitely chip away at your credibility.

Hiding the ball. If your CTO is about to resign, you lose far more points when potential investors find out later than if you are up front about it.

Arrogance. Most entrepreneurs have a lot to be proud of, but the best I have seen retain their humility no matter how successful they become.

Selling the wrong point. If the critical question is price performance, don't spend 15 minutes on channel strategy.

Preaching to the choir. If an investor says "OK, we accept that this is a $5 billion market," stop! Once you have convinced your audience of a point, you lose ground (for obtuseness) by going on to make additional arguments.

For many entrepreneurs, these suggestions for improving investor pitches will be old hat. But all entrepreneurs should recognize that even a great business can't shine through a low-quality pitch. Good pitches mean investment decisions are made on the merits of the underlying business, and that's in everyone's interest.

Sandwich Ideas

If its near the end of the month and payday is too far gone, (our payday is the 15th of every month). Making your own sandwichs is the last resort, if you have to make them you can at least make something that doesn't draw inspiration from British Rail cuisine. Pret A Manger the McDonalds owned sandwich shop has put some helpful recipes here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

X-Type Giveaway

In order to promote the Jaguar X-type in the USA Jaguar are having a draw for a rare-as-hens-teeth black Apple iPod. In addition, they are also offering some trendy as MP3s for you to download.

The tracks are by west coast house act Kascade doing a Moby, ambient outfit Zero 7 and drum n' bass group DB and Stakka. Get'em while you can!
Cool Stuff Not Available for Mac Shocker!

Anoto are a bunch of mad Swedes who have invented a digital pen. The magic stuff they have came up with is a special spotted paper with unique markings so the pen can tell what kind of document its writing, the colour the 'ink', where it is on the page, should the writing be sent as an email. Despite featuring in a major feature article written for Wired magazine the company is doing quite well and coming up with cool stuff. As any bureaucrat would tell you the pen is a lifesaver for meetings and a sure TabletPC killer for mobile applications such as the UPS man.

Anoto have licenced this technology to a number of people most notably Logitech; the mouse and speaker people.

Logitech's io is a neat piece of kit. Unfortunately they haven't released any Mac drivers for it and won't be doing so for the forseeable future. What I'd like you to do is help them forsee the future by completing this form requesting Mac drivers. (Re the product and serial number, they have a very handy prompt that tells you how many digits that you need to fake up).
The Number

Whilst catching up on my backlog of mails I came across this from CBS Marketwatch:


Yahoo shares (YHOO) got the boot after the company kicked off a fresh
earnings season for the online-media group by only just measuring up to
expectations, demonstrating what American Technology Research analyst
Mark Mahaney called a mantra: "in-line quarters don't cut it for
Internet stocks."

Ok, basically what this guy Mahaney is saying that because Yahoo! managed to get their profit for the quarter in line with what a number of market anlaysts expected them to be (based on a guestimate set maybe 90 to 180 days back) then they deserve a kicking.

Unbelievable, accountancy despite the use of numbers is not an exact science, why?
- bills and sales are constantly coming in and out of a company
- what does a sale really mean? If you sign a 3 year deal for online advertising, should Yahoo! claim that as a sale all at once or claim as the money comes in
- when is the money in? When you invoice for it, or when it sits in your bank account
- is the capital gains made on the building you own and work out of profit?
- if you had a bumper quarther this time but you know that the next quarter will be soft, should you avoid booking all the sales in to give you an income cushion next quarter?
- How should you write off the depreciating value of computer equipment, chairs or a forklift truck? There can be more than one way of doing it that will affect the figures

With this in mind, I would recommend that you read The Number by Alex Berenson, which takes you through the insanity of it all in greater depth.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Move over Panini and TopTrumps

Remember when you used to get a sticker album and yet could never complete it, or play top trumps to avoid doing your homework. Well relive your childhood with these funky collectors cards sets for kids from the Center for Disease Control and prevention in Atlanta. Featuring such classic diseases as Avian Flu, HIV, West Nile virus and Hepatitus B.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Nice it up

I received an email from my old partner- in-crime Si Don't know where he got them from but they sound like good Saturday nights in a club feel. Enjoy

To: ged carroll
Date: Sun Jul 11, 2004 03:42:24 PM BST
Subject: couldn't have said it better myself........

Remind Me To Be Nice To Myself

Tower block rises majestically above the picturesque plains,
and ever-so-gentle rolling hills of Stepney and Poplar, Bethnal Green and BOW. Bears silent witness to the daily trials and tribulations of the noble plains-people of these ancient provinces.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

Tower block by night. It has very bright white lights attached to its top surfaces as a security measure, I can't imagine what against. These lights, they are wonderful, they serve to illuminate this monument to pointlessness.

Yes, the night time's the best time:
The wind blows furtively, drives the rain irregularly against the windows.
And all the time the short-wave drones. Beautiful isolation - hermetically sealed surrealism at tow hundred and fifty feet.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

There's a girl lives next door, been to India. She's an American Swedish hippy at a bus station in Northern Holland sort of a person- vaguely opiate-like - Yeah! Sometimes I scream to her, From my nineteenth floor balcony:
"I will not continuously qualify and justify what I say".
I smile benignly - return to my flat, imagine her demurely murmuring: "Don't patronised me". I feel, we're both happy with this arrangement, as it's cordiale enough without threatening our own individual, desperate loneliness with any degree of intimacy.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.

Tower block, external symbol of our inner desolation a scenario so bleak, it brings a tear to your eye. A nostalgic, sentimental tear, as if in vague subliminal remembrance of a barren airless landscape of a different planet,
one million years ago. Tower block, Oh ancient timeless representative of all that is meaningful, oh nearer my God to thee.

By the way, remind me to be nice to myself.


And now the buildings change. Now the people change. Everything changing.
Spirit and matter most apparent. Realised there never was anything to worry about, to doubt was insane. The limited, callow individuals living on housing estates in Chingford, Large detached houses in Kew Tower blocks on the Tottenham marshes, Become my gods. I see an accounts clerk from Tooting: I see Zeus. A sanitary inspector from the London Borough of Haringay, And Brahmin stands resplendent before me.

For five minutes I love everybody. There is only love. All action ceases.

The Mile End Road, once a blood-stained battleground of Bacchanalian
excess, becomes the Garden of Gethsemane. A bitter, 72-year old ex-docker becomes the ever-compassionate Buddha. A Cypriot minicab driver becomes St Francis of Assissi. The 22-year-old Glaswegian checkout girl IS the divine mother.

I love everybody. My spirit is free.

I am limitless in space, time and matter, Simultaneously the planet Neptune, part of the structural support to Vauxhall Bridge. I am your left breast, I am Stepney, I am Peru, I am divine and so are you.

I love everybody.

I am nothing except a mere cluster of notes, a road sign in Skelmersdale.
I ran the Roman Empire. I was a lavatory attendant in Hull. I am everybody and everybody is me. Spirit.

Who put the spirit in matter? LOVE

State of the Union

State of the Union seems to be BBC Radio 4's way of replacing the late Alistair Cooke's Letters From America.

The 15-minute slot from 20h50 - 21h00 on a Friday and repeated from 08h50 - 09h00 on a Sunday is hosted by a different American journalist each week. You can have a listen here. Cooke was an institution and a relic of when Britishness meant life as a character in an Agatha Christie novel and acting like Cole Porter show tunes were still all the rage. State of the Union is very now, and a good way of ensuring that the presenter doesn't get unfavourably compared to Mr Cooke's legacy. It won't be cult listening, but listenable all the same.

The BBC's own spiel: In this US election year, a new series, State of the Union tells the stories that define the American nation.

Drawn from the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, the deep South and the mid-West heartland, each week a distinctive American broadcasting voice reflects on everyday America.

The first one was done by Betty DeRamus, a Pulitizer prize winning columnist from the Detroit News. State of the Union will continue until November. It will be followed by Letter, first-person reports from Beijing, Delhi, Johannesburg, etc, which already goes out on the World Service at 05h30 on Sundays.
Buttocks and Ambient Advertising

ABC News have an article about sponsored streakers. Under the UK's government would anti social behaviour orders be served against advertisers , similar to what happened to BMG and Sony Music for their continued use of illegal flyposting and stencilling crews?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Popbitch rumour mill

From Popbitch:

- speculation the Weinstein brothers are leaving Miramax imminently to buy MGM with Steve Jobs for more than $5bn

- UK garage/ R&B starlets Mis-Teeq's future in UK is worrisome, Telstar's demise left them labelless, but Scandalous is shooting up the Billboard chart in US. No 35 and "greatest gainer" this week
Back to the Funk

Over the past number of days the posts have erred on the serious side. Every revolution needs its break, even the participants of The Long March took a chill pill once in a while. In this vein I wanted to point out Scottish record label Redhook Recordings. I first heard of them when Parisonic licenced and remixed Brothers and Sisters by the Butch Cassidy Sound System - their remixes (think Phish or the Dead playing dub reggae with a house tempo was on of my records of last summer along with DJ Spinna feat. Rich Medina - Reality and the Street Choir house bootlegs of Robert Cray's Phone Booth). Anyway you can pick up the original version of Brothers and Sisters here together with Second Crusade - What I had to do (a latin orientated feel good house track if ever I heard one)
The real Spiderman blockbuster

Spite Your Face Productions made this Lego epic to tie in with Spiderman 2, its really cool. Check it out here in MPEG4 (get Quicktime to play it).

Friday, July 09, 2004

Jargon Watch

Found these two on the email list:

Tanorexic - people who use tanning salons excessively. Tanorexics are said to have the same kind of compulsion based around self image as people with eating disorders

Speedophiles - people who break the speed limit, made up by the pro speed camera lobby in the UK. The careful choice of wording designed to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drunk driving or child abuse.

From one of my clients:

Barney Release - a partnership press release involving a larger/more respected/bigger brand (usually technology companies) named after the signature song of the big purple dinosaur I love you You love me We're a happy family With a great big hug And a kiss from me to you Won't you say you love me too? I love you You love me We're best friends Like friends should be With a great big hug And a kiss from me to you Won't you say you love me too? (Lyrics by Lee Bernstein [BMI])

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Virtual Drunk

Flash game from some sort of Swiss German drinking festival here. Use the arrow keys to control your drunkard.
Ain't No Burn Like a Boiler Room Burn

Interesting article in Bambi Francisco of CBSMarketwatch's regular email. It seems despite the dot.bang people are still up for getting burned.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) - Sometimes, you do what you can to stay afloat.

As many market watchers have already observed, there are companies out there that appear to be promising candidates in a hot business area, but make their money off of something entirely non-related.

Some investors may have heard of a company called Mace Security International, whose shares traded to a recent high of $6.68 in mid-June after trading below $2 earlier this year. The stock went gangbusters because the company's been touting its anti-terrorist, surveillance security products.

One would think Mace housed a number of technologists in cubicles. Yet those techies weren't techies at all, unless washing cars requires an engineering degree. Apparently, Mace generated 85 percent of its sales this year from being a car wash.

Mace shares eventually got washed up a bit as its true colors were exposed. Let's face it, being a car wash isn't a competitive advantage for a security company. (Now, if they were impersonating a car wash but were really a security company -- I'd say that was impressive.)

But here's what we can learn from Mace. Sometimes you have to be creative if you want to stay in business.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

PalmOne Sings to Mac Choir

PalmOne, official provider of PDAs to Renaissance Chambara, has announced a portal for Mac users. Admittedly the content is as sparse as a supermodels buffet at the moment, but I have hopes that it will get better. If they want this to happen at a rate of knots they can throw a fat roll of benjamins at me: gedcarroll at
SourceNext: mad, bad or dangerous?

Crazy Japanese software company makes craz-ey adverts, seriously check these out. Maximum kudos to Ashlee Vance at The Register for bringing this to a Western audience.
Revolution with a spray-can

If you live in London or have been to Shoreditch you've probably came across the grafitti art of Banksy. Talent, anger, political statement and a black sense of humour via Andy Warhol to create provocative stencil art.

In the interest of spreading the revoluton here is Banksy's guide to creating creative grafitti:

A guide to cutting stencils

- First off, stencil anything. If you wait for the perfect idea you will be waiting for ever. Cleverness is never as entertaining as blatant stupidity, failure and public humiliation

- Obtain a fucking sharp knife. Blunt knives result in fluffy pictures and make the whole process long and boring. Snap off blades of British steel are best.

- Draw your artwork on paper, glue onto some card then cut straight through the both. Acetate is apparently quite good but any sort of free cardboard is okay. Stiff 1mm to 1.5mm board is ideal.

- Get a small roll of gaffa tape, pre-tear small strips and stick them on your shirt inside your coat.

- Find a suitable piece of card to act as a folder. For instance when using red paint cut the stencil into the bottom of a pizza box so when you get paint all over your fingers its not so suspicious.

- Leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.

- Spray the paint sparingly onto the stencil from a distance of 8 inches.

- If you're in a place with lots of security cameras wear a hood, move around the city quickly and act like a sad old drunk if you attract attention.

- Be aware that going on a major mission totally drunk out of your head will result in some truly spectacular artwork and at least one night in the cells.

- When explaining yourself to the Police its worth being as reasonable as possible. Graffiti writers are not real villains. I am always reminded of this by real villains who consider the idea of breaking in someplace, not stealing anything and then leaving behind a painting of your name in four foot high letters the most retarded thing they ever heard of.

- Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.

- The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a bi-product of making something that means something. You don't go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Real Winners of Euro 2004

Creative Club has posted the top advertisements that capitalised on Euro 2004 here. While Greece won the football many of these brands hoped for a bumper sales windfall courtesy of the football tournament.
GoatCactus and Screen Ghosts

Holy Smokes I hear you cry, what on earth can such a bizarre heading mean? Before you ask we haven't been hitting the magic mushrooms again. Facetop is a project at the University of North Carolina to 'ghost' video conference participants on to a computer screen, check here. No more annoying iChat screens

GoatCactus is a piece of software that uses computer math to generate music, off its head check this out

History Repeating

Thanks and maximum kudos to Ted Dolotta who posted this New York Times Op Ed to the Interesting People email list. The New York Times online piece can be found here (registration required, but well worth it).

Their George and Ours

July 4, 2004

When they first heard the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, New Yorkers were so electrified that they toppled a statue of King George III and had it melted down to make 42,000 bullets for the war. Two hundred
twenty-eight years later, you can still get a rush from those opening paragraphs. "We hold these truths to be self-evident." The audacity!

Read a little further to those parts of the declaration we seldom venture into after ninth-grade civics class, and you may feel something other than admiration: an icy chill of recognition. The bulk of the declaration is devoted to a list of charges against George III, several of which bear
an eerie relevance to our own time.

George II is accused, for example, of "depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury." Our own George II has imprisoned two U.S. citizens - Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi - since 2002, without benefit of trials, legal counsel or any opportunity to challenge the evidence against them. Even die-hard Tories Scalia and Rehnquist recently judged such executive hauteur intolerable.

It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004. The signers of the declaration were colonial subjects of a man they had come to see as a foreign king. One of their major grievances had to do with the tax burden imposed on them to support the king's wars.In contrast, our taxes have been reduced - especially for those who need the money least - and the huge costs of war sloughed off to our children and grandchildren. Nor would it be tactful to press the analogy between our George II and their George III, of whom the British historian John
Richard Green wrote: "He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James II."

But the parallels are there, and undeniable. "He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power," the declaration said of George III, and today the military is indulgently allowed to investigate its own crimes in Iraq. George III "obstructed
the Administration of Justice." Our George II has sought to evade judicial review by hiding detainees away in Guantanamo, and has steadfastly resisted the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows non-U.S. citizens to bring charges of human rights violations to U.S. courts.

The signers further indicted their erstwhile monarch for "taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments." The administration has been trying its best
to establish a modern equivalent to the divine right of kings, with legal memorandums asserting that George II's "inherent" powers allow him to ignore federal laws prohibiting torture and war crimes.

Then there is the declaration's boldest and most sweeping indictment of all, condemning George III for "transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a
civilized nation." Translate "mercenaries" into contract workers and proxy armies (remember the bloodthirsty, misogynist Northern Alliance?), and translate that last long phrase into Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

But it is the final sentence of the declaration that deserves the closest study: "And for the support of this Declaration . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Today, those who believe that the war on terror requires the sacrifice of our liberties like to argue that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact." In a sense, however, the Declaration of Independence was precisely that.

By signing Jefferson's text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world's greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn't kidding around with his quip about
hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

They signed anyway, thereby stating to the world that there is something worth more than life, and that is liberty. Thanks to their courage, we do not have to risk death to preserve the liberties they bequeathed us. All we have to do is vote.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Monday, July 05, 2004

Newly-Discovered Dumb Marketers

Coca-Cola, the troubled beverage company is in the midst of a major marketing promotion to try and bolster sales of its signature drink. Throughout the US, Coca-Cola has put 120 special cans into multipacks of original Coke. These cans look like a Coke, feel like a Coke, but instead of the secret formula contain a GPS device and a cell phone courtesy of Airtel.

You find the can, you activate it and some marketing klutz can show up at any time in a Bell Jetranger to drop a giant 4WD off for you - with surprise being the operative word. This is in a country where security is verging on paranoia since 11/9/2001, has the highest number of gun nuts, conspiracy theorists and gangbangers.

Now, not that I am prejudiced or anything but why would you want to be surprised by a bunch of Coca-Cola marketers playing at being the NSA a la Sneakers or Enemy of the State?

Big Brother Awards

Privacy International tackles some of the most prevalent civil rights abuses currently occuring in the West. The decline of the right to privacy. Here is details of their forthcoming Big Brother Awards to be held at the London School of Economics.
BBC Online Under Siege

New Labour continued waging its dirty war on UK's public sector broadcaster the BBC has just entered a new phase. Philip Graf's report into the BBC's online activities recommends cutting the content that could be provided by private sector providers. This of course has nothing to do with Labour's special relationship with independent media companies including Flextech Television; or that the channel has sometimes not been on message with Labour headquarters regarding the recent Iraq conflict. Adobe Acrobat reader required, MacOS X can use Preview instead.
3 F**ks Up

Troubled mobile phone company 3UK balls'd up my phone connection. July 4th - US independence day and the day when I give notice to 3 to terminate my contract.

- Unfortunately I can only give my notice Monday - Friday as the department that deals with number portability is away
- July 5, after waiting half an hour I manage to get through to someone at 3 around 9:35am. They will arrange for a PAC number to be sent out and instead cut off my number. I work in PR so this is a major SNAFU
- I am now relying on the Royal Mail to get a SIM card to me that will work by July 7!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Rad Gear For Coming Down

Ok, its the Sunday morning (late) after the Saturday night, your feet are aching, your clothes stink of cigarettes and your ear drums have been desensitised by 5 kW of music power. Oh yeah and your best mate is working his way through the contents of your fridge.

Some jazzy gear to ease those frayed edges of reality that stray into your world:

Oakley MP3 glasses: Ok so you will look a bit of a spaz, but they will protect your eyes from harsh daylight and have enough space for Adventures beyond the Underworld by The Orb, Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Unfortunately Lance Armstrong is riding in the Tour de France with YOUR pair!

Mickey Mouse ceiling projector: Ideal for when you are about to go to sleep but still feeling a bit cosmic. Only available from Toys R Us in Japan

Relax and terrible Tuesdays will be not quite so bad even if your pension fund is taking a punishment with the Ambient Devices Orb.