April 2000 Archives

Mark Kingwell on smoothness. But

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Mark Kingwell on smoothness.

But the seductions of smoothness
go beyond the placeless, spaceless, ethereal
arrival of the shoe or the laptop. They embrace
the larger value of efficiency, or usefulness,
which in our day is most often thematized as
even flow: of goods, data, capital or individuals.
Things function better, they are more useful and
efficient, when they submit smoothly to this
flow, when they shed their hard idiosyncratic
edges and enter the appropriate streams and
channels of transportation without too much
trouble or effort. The inner logic of smoothness
is not just about reproducibility, with multiple
indistinguishable tokens parading before us,
different only in their candy colours. It is also
about translatability, the idea that anything and
everything may be smoothly converted into a
metalanguage of useful disposal and thus
effortlessly transferred from one place, one data
port, to another.


It is not wrong to derive pleasure from the flush
surfaces and inviting curves of the world around
us. It is not wrong to regard a limpid sentence
or glossy household appliance as something
worth having, something worth your caressing
glance. But it is wrong to forget, even for a
moment, the hidden costs of that achievement.
And it is doubly wrong to think that smoothness
says all that needs saying when it comes to who
we are and what we want -- when it comes to
who we might be.

Very very good article, which is actually an excerpt from
a graduation address at a design school.

Registration opens for YAPC 19100.

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Registration opens for YAPC 19100. Those wacky perl hackers.

I would dearly love to

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I would dearly love to get a copy of the Codex Seraphinianvs, although used copies run into the hundreds of dollars.

Old but good interview with

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Old but good interview with Ellen Ullman.

Aside from that, I'm working on a novel. It's about a man who's been programming for years and then encounters a bug he can't fix for a year -- what happens to him when all the technology that's been sustaining him stops working. It's set in 1984, year of the first release of the Mac, which I suppose makes it a "historical" technical novel. But I don't think anyone should wait around to read it. Novel writing takes even more time than software. And it's much harder to tell when everything "works."

The most terrible thing about

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The most terrible thing about the revenue canada URL (http://www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca/) is not that it's totally hard to remember, nor that it's almost completely impossible to guess, it's that I'm positive there were meetings attended by dozens of people that decided this is the best way to name government of canada web sites. If you can't figure out what the URL means, ccra stands for Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, whilst adrc stands for Agence des Douanes et du Revenu du Canada. Once you know that, it's just obvious, innit? I did find out what I needed to know, though, which is that I can legally procrastinate until midnight, May 1st.

Yeah, but will they have

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Yeah, but will they have a weblog? From Slate's Today's Papers:

Tonight's Episode: Two Of Our Servers Are Down. The WP TV section reports that ABC is planning a "reality" series about a Webzine start-up. A real dot-com magazine staff is going to be hired and then a camera crew will film their activities 24 hours a day for six months.

Also, is this any different from a startup with lots of webcams? (*cough*)

To be honest, if I

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To be honest, if I was rich I'd probably want to get sick in the US, not Canada. Seeing as I'm not, getting sick in the Canada seems wise.

Germaine Greer bound and beaten

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Microsoft and Xerox team up

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Microsoft and Xerox team up on digital rights. The rights of copyright holders to move all content to a subscription-based model, of course. I will not buy a single electronic book unless I am guaranteed the right to resell or give my ownership to someone else without having to inform the copyright owner. I don't want to have to worry about whether I'm entitled to loan a friend a copy of a great book. The market is still wide open for a digital protection scheme that actually respects the rights of the users of copyrighted works as well as the creators. I fully respect the desire of artists to get paid for their work, but I expect to be able to buy a copy of their work, not lease it, or rent it.

How O'Reilly animals came to

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How O'Reilly animals came to be. The most interesting part of this for me is that everyone else at O'Reilly hated this idea at first. That and one author fought to have boll weevils as his cover animal.

The boll weevil is regarded as a notorious pest-possibly the most destructive insect in North America-for its devastation of cotton crops in the southern United States since its migration from Mexico in the late 1800s. Although 90 percent of adult boll weevils die over the winter, the egg cycle from larva to adult takes only three weeks, so in one year between four and seven generations can be born. It's estimated that boll weevils destroy 10 percent of the cotton crop per year, which amounts to over $200 million in damage and affects at least 13 states in the U.S. Controlling the population of this small beetle is very difficult, as the chemicals that can eradicate them often cause too much environmental pollution to be safely used.

Persons of Ancient Athens. Contains

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Persons of Ancient Athens. Contains useful information like:

276085 GLAUKOS son of POLUMHDHS (PA 2994)
stratiotes or officer distinguished in Euboia expedition of Phokion, 348a. Status A*.

Apparently, only a portion of the actual database is online as of yet. More in this Globe and Mail article. (And by the way, it really sucks that after searching for an article, I have to refind it so I can have a short link to post it.)

More National Post bashing, this

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More National Post bashing, this time courtesy of the Globe and Mail.

I'm glad that The National

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I'm glad that The National Post is such a classy newspaper. Today's big stories include:

  • FROM FOSTER MOTHER TO LESBIAN LOVER - front page, above the fold, with picture. End of article quote: "'Ms. Hetu's role was to provide guidance, not sexual gratification.'"
  • Female teacher alleged to have had sex with team - Page A3, subhead: "Coached boys volleyball: Teens don't see themselves as victims." Also, if one actually reads the story, it turns out that it is all allegation with no proof. The article doesn't provide any detail, noting:
    The National Post has chosen not to name the community or school to protect the identities of the alleged victims and teacher, who has not been charged.

    The teacher, now 34, has since quit her teaching position and lives in another province with a 21-year-old man who is a former student, police said.

    However, if you read an earlier article from the paper about the Heather Ingram case, you get this information:
    The RCMP in Prince George, B.C., is probing allegations of sexual exploitation against a 34-year-old teacher who is now living with her former student.

    The woman, who was not named, taught in Kelly Road Secondary School for seven years, and faces allegations she was sexually involved with several boys who were her students over a three-year period in the 1990s.

    She has since quit her teaching position and now lives in Grande Prairie, Alta., with a 21-year-old man who is a former student.

    Note that both articles are by the same reporter. Love the false sense of decorum!

The other front page news of note is that Black is selling most of his newspapers; unfortunately he is not selling the Vancouver Sun or Province, so Vancouver will continue to be the only major Canadian city without proper newspaper competition.

Eric Idle, in today's Globe

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Eric Idle, in today's Globe and Mail:

"There aren't many novelists who get dressed up like a woman and sing Isn't It Awfully Nice to Have a Pussy," he says, puffing out his chest. "I say, 'Follow that, Salman Rushdie.'"

Oh, and if someone at the Globe would like to explain why it's necessary for links from searches to look like this:

Ehts% 26ResultStart%3D1%26ResultCount%3D10&

...when the actual article URL is:


I'd love to know. Ta.

I love all-day ADSL outages,

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I love all-day ADSL outages, truly.

Perhaps even more predictable than

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Perhaps even more predictable than Canadian companies trying
to make money with tiresome pro-canadian
bits is Americans, if they even notice, responding by making fun of
Canada as defining ourselves
in terms of not being American. Hey, you know what? We're Canadian. We're different, that's all, and in real ways.
I really believe that most Canadians do not really view a beer
commercial as representing their national identity.

Elitism is good It's probably

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Elitism is good

It's probably a good thing that this year's Bones
class, according to one Bonesologist, is
composed of three African Americans, four
students of East Asian decent, two Jews, and a
Latino, with the balance being white; that the
prestigious societies Wolf's Head and Berzelius
regularly have more African Americans than
whites; and that all the groups divide their taps
more or less equally between men and women.

Love the probably.

CNN has sidebars for netscape

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CNN has sidebars for netscape 6 available. Amazingly, this was a front page ad on cnn.com. Well, perhaps not so amazing what with both netscape and cnn being owned by AOL.


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Jeff Noon reads from Pollen.

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Jeff Noon reads from Pollen.
I haven't been able to find any of his more recent books
here in Canada. Indigo does have a feature article on that
$2400, 66 pound Helmut Newton book,
though, which is nice of them.

The radio glows hot

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The radio glows hot with non stop programming from the Caribbean. You rub your eyes and make a pact with God and Fidel you'll be his secret agent here in America; in the belly of the beast. You disconnect your receiver, hide it under your bed like in the movies, and turn off the light. You get undressed in the dark a smile on your face. You're a guerrilla fighter: a man with a purpose and tomorrow you'll start to prepare yourself for the coming revolution in which all men will be free from exploration! For the first time in your life you feel like you'll survive.
From Fidel's Secret Agent, by Jay Marvin.

The beos port page on

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The beos port page on mozilla has finally been
updated. It compiles, but that's about it right now.

Will Self interviews Martin Amis.

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Will Self interviews Martin Amis.

But also, I can draw an A-Z of my London. A schizophrenic once knocked on my
door in Shepherds Bush and said, 'Can you drive me to Leytonstone and give me
17.37,' and I did. As we were driving to Leytonstone he was ranting, completely
incoherent. And I said, 'Look, you're mad. I want to check in the A-Z exactly where you
want me to take you before I go further.' And he said: 'But you and I know that the A-Z is
a plan of what's going to be built.' That's how I conceive my London.

While looking for Will Self

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While looking for Will Self info, I came across
this site about
J.G. Ballard, which looks like a useful resource. I did
come across some good stuff about Self

A new chapter in Andrew

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A new chapter in Andrew Leonard's Free Software Project. I dig the penguin illustration.

"There is something about a

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"There is something about a book that should inspire a certain presumption of reverence." I can't quite decide what to think of this. While I too believe that books aren't going away and that libraries are important places, actively fighting against making books available online because reading on a computer just isn't as good as reading on paper is an act of hubris. Link arrogantly checked out from slashdot.

So my host added logs

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So my host added logs
for the cheaper plans, and what do I discover. Hits, palpable
hits! I may have to start being a bit more dilligent if
people are actually reading this. And make the archives
more discoverable, too. (Click the numbers in the left
hand column, you can get archives for either the day or month.)

tbtf points out that it's

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tbtf points out that it's been
about three and a half years since
anon.penet.fi shut down.
I find it interesting to go over these old stories, not
only to see how the issues they're being raised are being
dealt with today
(hushmail or
freedom.net, anyone?)
but also to see just how many bad links show up. None of the
links at the
original tbtf story
work (except for the one that
seems to be a porn site now). Because so few news sources
have robust archives, the utility of linking quickly decays.
While some
might point to the deficiencies of http/html/URIs as the
cause of this, the blame lies more at the feet of content
providers who have a vision of the web where they control
how, when and for how long we get to view content. My
papers think
that this period is a day. The
Globe and Mail and
NY Times think a week
is long enough to provide free links.
The National Post
is generous with 6 months of freebies. After
that, you better get ready to cough up ridiculous amounts per
article, if archives are available at all. I could go on about this,
but suck already
said it better than I could, and did it two years ago to boot.
Now imagine this ridiculous situation applied to all the
media you consume - movies, music, books - and I think it
sums up the corporate "vision" for the net: consumers
will never again have outright ownership of any copyrighted
work, we will merely rent it. This is why I think merely
technical solutions are not enough - there need to be sane
copyright and patent laws that continue to do what they
were intended to do - balance the interests of copyright holders
and the public good. You'll know that this has happened when
Mickey Mouse actually enters the public domain.

Noam Chomsky on IMF Debt

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Noam Chomsky on IMF Debt Forgiveness

Jane Jacobs has a new

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Jane Jacobs has a new book out,
The nature of economies. If you haven't read any of her books, you're missing one of the more iconoclastic thinkers around.

Yet another reason to want

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Yet another reason to want HBO. Based on a book by David Simon, who also wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Seems like there's a small category of authors that live for a year alongside their subjects before writing about their experiences. Tracy Kidder has written some very good books (most famously The Soul of a New Machine) with this basic method.

Oh, this is good. Mozilla

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Oh, this is good. Mozilla embedded into Nautilus. If nothing else, I think mozilla will make a huge difference to the alternative-OS world. The first question most people ask is: "Does it have a decent browser?" If it does and it works well, people will be a lot more likely to use an alt-os. The second question most people ask is, "Does it have game X?" The unfortunate answer to that for most games is no, although this initiative for a kind of cross-platform directx-killer looks interesting, although the cynical will note that most anti-MS measures have been doomed to failure in the past. If things have really changed, maybe this won't be the case for Khronos.

The code will not set

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The code will not set you free. Ellen Ullman is, as always, well worth reading.

Not to be missed interview

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Not to be missed interview on Slashdot. Thinks to worry about, #2,013: dispossessionism. It seems strange that I should have to articulate why I have the right to outright ownership of intellectual property that I buy.

Vaccination under attack. This gets

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Vaccination under attack. This gets to be a really difficult discussion, because what it seems to boil down to is whether or not it is ok to have a small number of kids die or be debilitated from vaccination reactions so that the vast majority of kids are safe from potentially fatal or debilitating diseases.
It's a bit gruesome put that way, isn't it? The National Vaccine Information Center is listed in the article as anti-vaccine,
but from a cursory examination of their website it would
seem they're more pro-parental knowledge. Odd domain name, though.

Gotta agree with camworld on

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Gotta agree with camworld on this one. This is just clueless. Nothing like using a putative review to rant about your pet peeve, which in this case seems to be object oriented programming.

Good summary article about patent

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Good summary article about patent madness from the Economist. Link shamelessly lifted from linux weekly news.

95 to 98 percent of

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Hitler historian loses libel case.

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Hitler historian loses libel case. The best part:

Mr Irving, the 62-year-old author of Hitler's War, is facing ruin over a defence costs bill of 2m following Mr Justice Gray's ruling.

Small editorial comment: ahahahahahahahaha

Link purloined from monkeyfist.

Phew. Maybe netscape 6 will

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Phew. Maybe netscape 6 will ship with a much better UI. Or so says some of the mozilla developers. Here's hoping. They also talk about the possibility of a 6 month beta period. Yikes. (Honestly, though, the product needs about that much cooking time.) Link brazenly stolen from Captain Cursor.

I had a big long

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I had a big long rant about how maybe XUL doesn't suck as much as the Sucksters think it does, but mozilla ate it. I hate irony.

Saw Ghost Dog: The Way

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Saw Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai last night. Much better than his previous film, Dead Man, which I still haven't managed to stay awake through. Forest Whitaker is perfect in the title role.

Argh. Somehow a whack of

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Argh. Somehow a whack of email got stuck at my ISP's mail server, and just got sent now. Now I have a bunch of list mail from FEBRUARY. Of course, according to their "apology" email, it was all due to their efforts trying to "serve you better". Safeway has a sign informing customers that they no longer accept checks unless you have a Safeway check card - and it's "in order to serve you better." Seems to me the phrase is rapidly losing all meaning. Welcome to hell - now 100 degrees hotter TO SERVE YOU BETTER.

Iron Chef comes to America.

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Iron Chef comes to America. Can't wait to see this. Iron Chef Japanese, Morimoto Masaharu, actually cooked at Diva at the Met for a week in March, but I wasn't able to go. Bah.

Very very good article about

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Very very good article about the Wiebo Ludwig trial.

"But Mamie," I said, "you don't have any proof that that's even
what happened, that the leak had anything to do with it. Why
didn't you guys call in a coroner to examine the baby's body?"

At this, Mrs. Ludwig, horribly distressed, cried out, cackling with
manic laughter, "Proof! You people always want proof! We know!
We don't need proof!"

"But you might have had it, if you'd had an autopsy," I said. "Or
do you think the coroners are in on the conspiracy too?"
Mrs. Ludwig only continued to sob. By now, I was also surrounded
by a half-dozen other members of the clan, including Mr. Ludwig
and Mr. Boonstra, and a little while later, gave up the ghost and

This is the phenomenon Brian Peterson describes as the families'
collective refusal to consider that there may actually be easy
answers to some of their questions, that for instance, if they did
what Mrs. Everton does when a child of hers develops a rash --
that is, take the child to the doctor's -- they too just might find
the explanation lies in a certain kind of laundry soap, or eczema,
or an allergy.

"They don't want to look for those simple kinds of solutions," Mr.
Peterson says. "They don't want solutions at all."

Dao of Web Design. Great

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Dao of Web Design. Great article (though it would be nice if a list apart made linking a little easier). I really think the web will become better by orders of magnitude as designers embrace the idea that part of a great web design is that it will flexibly adapt to any of the possible viewing environments.

I think they should call

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I think they should call it the lazysoft.

HIGH POINT, N.C. (Reuters) - Leave it to La-Z-Boy and Microsoft to find a way to surf with your feet up.

The companies during opening day of the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C., on Thursday unveiled the "e-cliner," a plush recliner with Microsoft's WebTV hard-wired into the armrest.

The e-cliner will retail from $999 upholstered to $1,299 for the leather version, complete with the WebTV keyboard console, set-top box and two month's free WebTV service.

Although the e-cliner, dubbed the "Explorer," generated some buzz for the company's recliner business, the roll-out comes as La-Z-Boy works to integrate recent acquisitions that have diversified its product offerings and boosted revenues for the furniture maker.

Responding to criticism from

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Responding to criticism from its board and subscribers over the poster for a forthcoming production of Strauss' Salome, the troupe stapled four (not seven) red chiffon veils over the biblical temptress's nipples and crotch in the poster put up recently outside the Academy of Music
I rather prefer the original over the censored version, myself.

Wow. You'll be seeing a

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Wow. You'll be seeing a link to this everywhere, methinks. I got it here (and they got it here).

MPAA sues the internet. Of

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MPAA sues the internet.

Of course, the MPAA says its only concern is with the DeCSS case, not linking policies in general. "There is certain hyperlinking that is clearly legal and others that aren't," says Litvack, adding that links to DeCSS are like links to child pornography, which "no one would want to proliferate, even if it's linked and not simply posted."

How's that for use of rhetoric? I love the connection they're trying to form here - if you don't agree with the MPAA, you must be for child pornography.

So netscape has made a

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So netscape has made a liar out of me. I was so sure they would release their branded browser with a different, better UI. They didn't. They added buttons for Net2Phone though. Colour me indifferent. I sincerely hope that alphanumerica finishes some of their very promising-looking UIs by the time netscape6 is released. Aside - I refuse to refer to a complete UI replacement as a skin. When you're basically altering everything about how an application functions, it's not a skin. To top it all off, the nightly mozilla builds have been utterly flaky, at least on linux. All those QA folks pulled to work on the netscape beta having an effect, I guess.

Ew: The WSJ and the

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The WSJ and the WP report that the IRS is planning to shut down a truly macabre tax break known as a "ghoul trust." The gimmick? A lawyer for a rich person finds a young person who is expected to die within a few years and creates a trust in the name of the doomed person that then is used as a vehicle to give assets to others after the predicted death. Because of the actuarial rules used to calculate estate and gift taxes, a young "donor" means big tax savings. The WP says that lawyers and financial planners market these packages to customers complete with the name of a suitably seriously ill individual and access to his/her medical records.

From Slate's Today's Papers. Can't provide a link to the article because it needs a subscription.

How linux was born.

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50 cups points out that

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50 cups points out that thethe will be playing Vancouver - and it's at the Commodore Ballroom, which is an amazing venue. Saw Peter Murphy there recently, and the renovation work they have done really improved the place. While on the topic of concerts - when did it become ok to have beer and cigarettes in the crowd in front of the stage? This happened at the last Tricky concert I attended as well, and I find it all kinds of annoying. I'm there to jump up and down, not worry about spilling beer or scarring myself with cigarette burns. I tell ya, when I was young, we knew how to mosh. Only idiots would take a beer into a Faith No More crowd. (FNM was, by the way, the best show I ever attended at the commodore, followed closely by the PJ Harvey/Tricky show. In case you care.)

Great article by Michael Moore

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Great article by Michael Moore on the cuban boy debacle. Via powazek.

Heh. Summary of Microsoft finding

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Heh. Summary of Microsoft finding of law, courtesy of cluetrain manifesto weblog:

You have performed an illegal operation and will be shut down

Microsoft smackdown coming. Ok, I

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Microsoft smackdown coming. Ok, I don't really know if there will be a smackdown, but I love the word smackdown. SMACKDOWN!

Musings on babelfish that changes

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Musings on babelfish that changes tone from funny to serious. Kinda parallels my thoughts about how those damn green lines in MS Word will eventually give rise to MS English.

I see google has been

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I see google has been improved with MentalPlex today. It does work better without undergarments. Also, teevee.org has finally got with the program and become a portal.

A picture I couldn't

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A picture I couldn't resist stealing. From salon.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2000 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2000 is the previous archive.

May 2000 is the next archive.

This is marginalia.org, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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