Monday, April 30, 2001

BBC News | MEDIA REPORTS | China internet cafe debate heats up

Quote: "Up to 15% of children in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are now said to be using the cafes. China announced two weeks ago that no new internet cafes would be approved for three months while the authorities re-registered existing cafes and carried out large-scale checks on their activities. As part of the crackdown, the authorities in Anshan in the north-east province of Liaoning installed "information purifiers" in more than a third of the city's 240 internet cafes - software denying users access to pornographic web sites."

Once again, porn is used as the excuse to censor internet access for young people. Having said that, though, I believe China's efforts will be as successful as a homeless guy trying to find leftovers in Roseanne's garbage. The great thing about knowledge is that it wants to be free, out in the open where it can get some sun and fresh air. The internet is the world's knowledge tree, where everybody can start climbing, no matter where or who they are. China's government can try and limit access all they want, but the kids will still find a way, God bless 'em, and as long as there are hackers and crackers in the world, there will always be a way for those kids to find.

Friday, April 27, 2001

Survivor: Australian Outback: Episode Thirteen

I gotta say, that car commercial disguised as a Survivor segment made me gag. Is it just me, or is Pontiac going nuts trying to sell this Aztek car to North Americans? It seems like every giveaway and contest involving a vehicle has this Aztek front and center. It's an ugly-looking car, people, and only tree-hugging freaks give a crap about how you can turn the back end into a tent.

So, with Colby winning every single challenge thrown at these idiots, you have to wonder why the others haven't smothered him in his sleep or something. He even won the challenge designed to challenge their 'intellect'. I put the word 'intellect' in quotes, because... well, you know why. Anyway, once Colby won immunity again, the Tribal Council went as expected. Cute Elisabeth could not be allowed to continue, as she would have wiped the walls with them in the final vote, as she rightly points out in her post-show comments. Now it's down to Colby, Keith, and Tina. Here's how I see it playing out:

If Colby wins the last immunity challenge, he will vote off Tina, because he is well aware that Keith is far less popular. Colby wins.

If Tina wins the last immunity challenge, she will vote off Colby, again because of Keith's lack of popularity. Tina wins.

If Keith wins the last immunity challenge, he'll vote off Colby, because he knows the Colbster's the man. I'm not sure Keith realizes that he's got little hope of winning, but he's got to believe his best chance is with Tina; maybe Tina lied to a couple members of the jury, and that will come out to haunt her. Otherwise, Tina wins.

Given that there are three possible scenarios, and two of them result in wins for Tina, the odds are definitely favouring Tina. However, Colby's winning streak is a factor, so we'll see how it works out.

Thursday, April 26, 2001 - Senate panel questions gasoline price hikes - April 26, 2001

I have a theory: schoolyard bullies grow up to run oil companies. I'm just throwing that out there, don't know if it will stick or not. The scary thing is, these oil companies work together to screw us consumers for maximum profits. Now, I'm sure any capitalist would say that this is a good thing, but it seems to me that too much of that profit ends up outside my country's borders, and that doesn't sit well with me. High gas prices are going to hurt our economy even more, especially here in Canada, where we rely so heavily on tourism dollars. But as long as a bunch of sheiks are running around with gold-plated Rolls-Royces, I guess that's all right.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

NBC may pull plug on poorly viewed XFL - Apr. 25, 2001

This is another example of how the media cannot force people to like something they don't want to like. NBC wanted you to like the XFL, but the product was inferior to the NFL, and the money involved was minuscule by comparison, so nobody cared. The money is a big factor - why is 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' such a hit? Do you think as many people would watch it if it was 'Who Wants To Be A Thousandaire'? XFL players get paid about as much as postal workers, which is enough for most viewers to dismiss it as 'bush-league'. It's not the sport that draws people, but the money and the personalities.

Friday, April 20, 2001

A List

The A List is a summary of rumors, gossip, and nasty truths about celebrities, alive and dead, old and young. It's good for a laugh, although as the site creator tells you at the start, 'Believe what you want & reject the rest.' There were a couple that I really liked, though, so I'll reprint them here:

Bolton, Michael. Vain. Deserves a sound thrashing. (Amen.)

Coleman, Gary. Admitted virgin at age 30. Selling dates with himself over the Internet. Freak. (Indeed.)

Flatley, Michael. Hilariously vain and conceited dancer. One of several men for whom the phrase "GET OVER YOURSELF" was invented. Just divorced his wife. Voted one of the twenty most-hated people in Ireland. (Does anybody like this guy?)

Gifford, Kathie Lee. One of the foci of evil in the modern world. (Without a doubt.)

Kissinger, Henry. Sycophant to kings and presidents; is a corrupt, vain, amoral and oily would-be Richelieu on whose hands are the blood of millions. (Wow, tell us how you really feel!)

Minnelli, Liza. Pill popper. Booze-bag. Undead. (That really sums it up, doesn't it?)

Shore, Pauly. Really is as stupid as he appears to be. (I knew it!)
Latest 'Survivor' results

Was I the only one who thought that Keith put his girlfriend into quite the corner when he proposed to her? I mean, what was she going to do, say no on national television? Crush the guy's spirits with only a few days left to go? It seemed to me that Elisabeth and Tina weren't all that enthusiastic about his proposal either; how romantic can a marriage proposal be in a chat room anyway?

As usual, it's the immunity challenge that decides who gets the boot, but I think Colby would do well to link up with Elisabeth and try and toast Keith next week, because you know Keith and Tina will dump Colby as soon as they can.

Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - Entertainment - Strong U.S. start for 'Weakest Link' - April 18, 2001

'The Weakest Link' has a host unlike any other on network television. She belittles, harangues, insults, and exposes weaknesses with unbelievable mercilessness. She's no feel-good Regis Philbin; she's no sympathetic Alex Trebek. Anne Robinson skewers contestants with the kind of sadistic glee that is just the thing to spice up prime-time television. I've always felt that a show centered around a villain would be a hit; now we have one. Make no mistake, Robinson is definitely the enemy, throwing cutting remarks at ordinary people like poison-tipped darts. After being told they are the 'weakest link' by the schoolmarm from hell, many contestants leave the stage with trembling eyes and little grace.
Here's the thing: we rarely see true emotion on television. The Springer-like talk shows have plenty of emotion, but you know they're all playing to the camera. On 'The Weakest Link', the humiliation the contestants feel is real, and the frustrated, angry gestures they make when stumbling from the stage are also very real. Why is this okay? Because each contestant knows going in what they're going to face. Each of them decided they were up to the task. It's not like they were ambushed on the street - they signed up for this. They are willing participants, and the best way to avoid Robinson's wrath is to perform well. It's just fascinating to watch each contestant engineer their own demise; most of the time, they know the answer, but Robinson's steely glare unnerves them so much that their minds go blank. Part of the reason 'Survivor' is such a success is that the host, Jeff Probst, always asks the cutting questions at Tribal Council, driving stakes right into the heart of their conflicts. That's what we want to see - we want to see people squirm under the microscope, while we think to ourselves: 'Man, I'm glad that isn't me.'

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

eCompany - Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business History

My favourite one is this:

" spends millions to make a sock famous."

If only they had bothered to use those millions to keep their company alive, they'd still be around.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

'Survivor' producers sue 'Boot Camp'

Hey, maybe the Boot Camp producers could get Stacey Stillman to represent them. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - Sci-Tech - Space - Shuttle astronaut to be first Canadian spacewalker - April 9, 2001

Yay! Canadians walking in space! Take that, Liechtenstein! Who's the man now, Borneo? Oh yeah - we rock! Ca-na-da! Ca-na-da! :)

Monday, April 09, 2001 - U.S. diplomats meet with spy plane crew - April 9, 2001

Quote: "President Bush said today that relations with China "could become damaged" if the standoff over the spy plane continues."

Is it just me, or does Bush need to hire a 'No shit, Sherlock' guy that will keep him from uttering incredibly obvious statements which do little to change the commonly-held view that Dubya's lightbulb is kinda dim?

Thursday, April 05, 2001 - Sci-Tech - Space - 11 new planets discovered; one in 'life zone' - April 5, 2001

It's stories like this that gets the sci-fi nut in me wishing we could just jump in the Enterprise, kick it up to warp factor 7, and check these planets out. I do think that we've got plenty of problems here on Earth to deal with first before we return our serious gaze to the stars, but I can dream, can't I? :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

CNEWS Law & Order - Woman sues airline over coffee burns

Quote: "Amos said she was traveling to Detroit from Washington, D.C., on March 6 when the full cup of hot coffee was spilled onto her lap. Amos said she told the flight crew she was in severe pain but they offered no first aid or ice. When she asked for cold water, she was told to get it from the bathroom faucet, she said."

Doesn't it seem like air travel is getting more and more nasty? Air rage, callous flight attendants, cramped seats, tasteless peanuts, airlines that herd you like cattle, and prices that make you wonder how anybody can afford to fly these days. Here in Canada, it's even more messed up, because we only have one national airline, and the resulting monopoly allows them to screw their customers in all sorts of creative ways. I say, give everybody a jetpack and let chaos reign. :)

Sunday, April 01, 2001

The promised land goes condo

Occasionally, famed movie critic Roger Ebert will write about other topics, which is always a treat, because Ebert is one of the best writers anywhere. In this essay, though, he lets us in on a shocking development: Alcatel, a communications/cellphone company, is using Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech in their new television and print ads. Words cannot describe the outrage and disgust, although Ebert gives it a good try. How dare they? How dare they cheapen one of America's defining moments by using it to sell cellular phones? Holy Hannah, what's next, will Budweiser use the Zapruder film to sell their latest light beer? I just can't believe the stunning lack of humanity here. What soulless marketing executive decided to try and make King's speech synonymous with cellphones instead of the civil rights movement? He died for his message, dammit, and now, this is what he died for? I mean, I'm just a middle-class white guy and I'm still appalled and dismayed. Does this company happen to have its head office in the same state that decided not to designate Martin Luther King's birthday as a holiday? Where the hell is Jesse Jackson? Christ, Jesse, you were there, man, you were right there, and you owe any political successes to King and his legacy. Where's your outrage now? I'm sorry, this just... Betrayal, no matter what form it takes, hurts like hell.