November 2003


Top ad of the day

(via Adam Curry)

Politically correct terminology

I saw this story a few days ago via Computer Weekly. Unfortunately, a lack of time meant I didnt get around to commenting on it.

The County of Los Angeles actively promotes and is committed to ensure a work environment that is free from any discriminatory influence be it actual or perceived. As such, it is the Countys expectation that our manufacturers, suppliers and contractors make a concentrated effort to ensure that any equipment, supplies or services that are provided to County departments do not possess or portray an image that may be construed as offensive or defamatory in nature.

One such recent example included the manufacturers labeling of equipment where the words Master/Slave appeared to identify the primary and secondary sources. Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label.

We would request that each manufacturer, supplier and contractor review, identify and remove/change any identification or labeling of equipment or components thereof that could be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive in nature before such equipment is sold or otherwise provided to any County department.

Fortunately, David Carr has provided the punchline.

Simplified travel for EU pet owners

Pets get their own passport for travel in Europe

From July next year, cats, dogs and ferrets in the EU will need a pet passport if they are to travel between Member States. However, those visiting the UK, Ireland and Sweden will need additional documentation to prove that rabies checks have been effective.

All the documents needed by pets for travel into each Member State will be replaced by a single document, recognised throughout the EU, which means that animal lovers will not have to obey a host of different regulations in each Member State.

Visits to the vet will become more straightforward, too, as the passport will record a detailed record of the pets medical history.

Well, that makes life a bit easier.

Asylum Seekers: A non-solution for a self inflicted problem

Blunkett threatens to put electronic tags on failed asylum-seekers

Failed asylum-seekers could soon be electronically tagged to prevent them from absconding, David Blunkett said yesterday.

Rather than comment directly on this, I thought Id take the opportunity to explain the image used to illustrate this post. The picture is of Takeshi Kitano, taken from Battle Royale, in which he plays Kitano - the former teacher and on-site supervisor of the Battle Royale programme. As such, Kitano is the voice of the government.

In the book, Kitanos character is called Kinpatsu Sakamochi - also the voice of the government, but in this case a government who describes their ruling philosophy as Successful Fascism.

Ill leave it to you to decide whether the picture is appropriate.

The Home Office also confirmed it had achieved Tony Blairs target of halving asylum claims over 12 months.

I still dont understand why a party that, ostensibly, sees itself as being committed to social justice can think of this as a good thing. If the Labour Party were genuinely concerned about rising numbers of asylum seekers, surely it would be seeking to address why these people are fleeing their homes rather than simply putting up barriers when they get here.

What exactly does having halved the number of asylum claims prove? That potential asylum seekers are more likely to attempt to avoid the authorities? Or that Blairs Britain is developing a reputation for intolerance and becoming a place no longer considered a safe haven by those fleeing torture and persecution?

And the question that really does need to be asked is who are these asylum seekers anyway?

Blunkett, Blair and co. seem quite happy to follow the lead set by likes of the Daily Mail in demonising asylum seekers into hoards of work avoiding terrorists, happy to take advantage of some fictitiously unlimited set of benefits until theyre ready to blow us up in our beds.

It would only take a few seconds of rational thought to realise that to apply this stereotype is nonsensical. Asylum seekers have simply become the latest minority against which discrimination is generally acceptable and onto which any and all generalised paranoias can be projected. Its pretty disgusting that the Labour Party in general and Blunkett in particular are so willing to join in this witch hunt.

So what exactly is the problem? The numbers of asylum seekers is hardly unmanageable - these people could be easily housed in or near various large cities where there is work to find and friends and relatives nearby.

Much of the strain on the asylum system is self inflicted. If it was made easier for so-called economic migrants to gain permission to stay and work in the UK, they would be less inclined to claim asylum. And given that the population of the UK, as with most of Europe, is getting older, keeping these migrants out of the country is short sighted to say the least.

Its not until the UK - and EU - governments start dealing with potential immigrants as individuals who, for a variety of reasons, want to live and work here that we will get past the current self-inflicted crisis.

Time to abandon Internet Explorer?

Ive been playing around with the Mozilla Firebird browser for a couple of months now and I have to say its a rather nifty piece of software. Its still at a pre 1.0 state and Mozilla arent making guarantees at the moment, but I have come to find both the tabbed browsing and built-in pop-up blocker invaluable.

I have to admit that I do miss some of the functionality of IE, but stories like this one certainly encourage me to stick with open source solutions.

A new security vulnerability in Internet Explorer could leave users with insecure desktops for up to a month as a result of no security patch being available from Microsoft.

[Secunia�s chief technical officer, Thomas Kristensen] said Microsoft was working on the fixes for its December security patch and claimed it would struggle to get a solution ready before January if it stuck to its usual monthly cycle

Mr. Picassohead

Q. What do you get if artists made toys?
A. Mr. Picassohead

You can see why I never became an artist here.

(via SEB)

Congratulations, Silvio

Berlusconi named as miscommunicator of the year

Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister and temporarily the head of the EU, has been named as the worst communicator of 2003, by the Foreign Press Association, reports Yahoo France.

Im sure hell be pleased, hes worked very hard for this award. For Example

An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. No, the doctor replies, but you will get accustomed to living under the earth.

Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns dont even know what prosciutto is. I cannot accept this.

The founders of Rome were Romulus and Remulus

Eighty-five per cent of the Italian press is left-wing and among the judges it is even worse There is a cancer in Italy that we have to treat: the politicisation of the magistracy.

Watch out, Barbarella


IT�S been a long time coming. But a woman has had a gadget surgically implanted in her back which gives instant orgasms � at the touch of a button.

Thats the girlfriends Christmas present sorted out, then.

What are you worth?

Britons work an extra day a week in unpaid overtime

A report claims employees will put in more than �23 billion of unpaid overtime this year � confirming that Britons work the longest hours in Europe.

The TUC has launched an online calculator showing people how many hours they should work and how much they were missing out on if they put in unpaid overtime.

Find out what youre really worth here.

The Curse of Michelin?

Chef profits by sending back his Michelin award

A German restaurateur has cocked a snook at Frances guardians of culinary excellence and handed back his Michelin star after claiming that the coveted award was damaging his business and draining profits.

Matthias Dahlinger, the 34-year-old chef and owner of the family-run Eichhalde restaurant in the German university town of Freiburg, had held his single Michelin star for six years.

But on Monday, when Michelins new German 2004 Red Guide appeared in bookshops, the Eichhalde was omitted. I was losing lots of money so I told them to take back their star, Mr Dahlinger told The Independent. They were pretty annoyed about it.

Michelin starred restaurants are luxury establishments in which you expect to pay a premium. This is all well and good, but there are also times when all you want is straightforward well cooked food. At times like this, a restaurant with a Michelin star is the last place you want to go.

Michelins latest Red Guide awards new stars to 23 restaurants in Germany and Austria, but 14 starred establishments listed in the 2003 edition have since closed. By contrast Mr Dahlingers Eichhalde appears to be booming.

It looks like Herr Dahlinger knows his market.