Archive for August, 2004

Fuck The Planet

Friday, August 20th, 2004

One reason why I really like Eminem is his poetic way of telling the world to fuckoff. I am also amused because I am trying to imagine some angered people’s reaction: « What?! He dared speaking like that? »
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Eminem and Dr Dre denied dinner at Orlando restaurant

Friday, August 20th, 2004

World Entertainment News Network
Posted August 20 2004

Hip-hop superstar Eminem was reportedly denied dinner at a Florida restaurant, because he was “rude and obnoxious”:
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Lingerie blog

Friday, August 20th, 2004

A women’s knickers blog. RTE’s Gerry Ryan would have a field day.

Georgia starts S Ossetia pullout

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Georgia has begun withdrawing troops from the conflict zone in South Ossetia a day after it claimed to have captured key strategic positions in the area. It is handing over control to a joint peacekeeping force composed of Russian, Ossetian and Georgian soldiers.

Events move fast.

Post September 11th 2001 Journalism

Friday, August 20th, 2004

An Oasis points to an interesting piece of media analysis.

I also came across this good media weblog today.

How good are Ireland’s schools?

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Dick O’Brien and William Sjostrom have been duking it out on the free vs fee debate in regard to Ireland’s schools.

Is William not relying on an entirely anecdotal example? I am not sure that one story such as that would put me off public schools, well in fact it wouldn’t. I went through the public system and I turned out fine. Whoops. That’s my anecdote.

Surely the stats Dick quotes are a more reliable source than anecdotes?

Or why not just do the two, go through a public school, and send ‘em off to a Leaving Cert crash course for the last year?

Are most of the new students starting in UCC this September really that badly educated?

Global warming to devastate Europe first

Friday, August 20th, 2004

According to a new study:

European winters will disappear by 2080 and extreme weather will become more common unless global warming across the continent is slowed, warns a major new report.

Europe is warming more quickly than the rest of the world with potentially devastating consequences, including more frequent heatwaves, flooding, rising sea levels and melting glaciers, says the European Environment Agency (EEA) document, launched on Wednesday.

The changes are happening at such a pace that Europeans must put in place strategies to adapt to an unfamiliar climate, the researchers write, although they stress the importance of the Kyoto Protocol in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

How could it be so localised that higher emissions in one region would results in a warmer clime? Is meteorology and climate science not a bit more complicated? Do clouds respect borders?

How ’bout some editing?

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Over at Irish Eagle some bad fact checking is reported, in the Independent no less. Conor Cruise O’Brien noted:

The present Governor of California George Kazantsakis, was elected in 2002 with the active support of President Bush, who campaigned for him in the State, and toured the State with the new Governor immediately after his election. The new Governor pledged his support for the re-election of President Bush immediately after his own election as Governor. He has recently renewed his pledge of support for the re-election of the President.

Err no. That would be Arnie. In 2003. And who the hell is George Kazantsakis?

Grokster Wins in Appeals Court

Friday, August 20th, 2004

An important decision has been reached.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Grokster (along with other vendors of decentralized P2P systems) is not liable for the copyright infringement of its users. Today’s decision upholds a lower court decision, which had been appealed by a group of music and movie companies.

The Court largely accepted Grokster’s arguments, finding that although the vast majority of Grokster users are infringers, Grokster itself cannot be held liable for that infringement.

The Court found Grokster not liable for contributory infringement, because Grokster did not have the necessary knowledge of specific infringement. In light of the Supreme Court’s 1984 Sony Betamax decision, as elaborated in this appeals court’s Napster decision, the court first determined that Grokster’s software has substantial commercially significant uses other than infringment. As a result, contributory infringement would have required that Grokster have knowledge of specific acts of infringement, at a time when Grokster could take action to stop those acts. But Grokster simply distributes its product to consumers, and has no knowledge of how any particular customer uses the product later. If copyright owners tell Grokster about an act of infringement, after that act has already happened, that is not actionable knowledge because it is too late to stop the infringment.

The court also held Grokster not liable for vicarious infringement, because Grokster does not have the right and ability to control its customers’ infringing activity. Grokster has no practical way to kick users off the system or to police the system’s use. The court also ruled that Grokster cannot be required to redesign its software and force its customers to update to the redesigned version.

And a quote from the actual judgement:

As to the issue at hand, the district court’s grant of partial summary judgment … is clearly dictated by applicable precedent. The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners’ immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context.

Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude.

As Slashdot notes: It is a very strong decision, basically bringing the Sony-Betamax decision into the modern age.

Language may shape human thought

Friday, August 20th, 2004

New Scientist reporting a curious study:

Hunter-gatherers from the Pirahã tribe, whose language only contains words for the numbers one and two, were unable to reliably tell the difference between four objects placed in a row and five in the same configuration, revealed the study.

Experts agree that the startling result provides the strongest support yet for the controversial hypothesis that the language available to humans defines our thoughts. So-called “linguistic determinism” was first proposed in 1950 but has been hotly debated ever since.

“It is a very surprising and very important result,” says Lisa Feigenson, a developmental psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US, who has tested babies’ abilities to distinguish between different numerical quantities. “Whether language actually allows you to have new thoughts is a very controversial issue.”

Indeed it is surprising.

Yahoo have a blog

Friday, August 20th, 2004

I’m impressed. Jeff Weiner, Senior Vice President, Search and Marketplace for Yahoo now has a blog. And it’s no ordinary PR blog either. In fact its quite good.

Yahoo’s blog is called http://www.ysearchblog.com/.

This follows Google, www.google.com/googleblog

Spirit Hints at Past Water, Opportunity Hits Rock Bottom

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Those two Rovers are at it again. No, not that. They are finding more and more evident of a history of liquid water on Mars. Fascinating stuff.

“I would say that this is the most powerful evidence [of water] in the rocks at Gusev Crater,” said Steven Squyres, the rovers’ principal investigator from Cornell University. “We had evidence…that a little bit of water percolated through the plains there.”

Ireland raises growth forecasts

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Good news for the Irish economy. How does it happen that it’s good PR to tell a country’s citizens that the government has succeeded in taking more money off them than it expected, and that the citizens think thats a good thing?

Surely we should be up in arms that the government is getting all these taxes? Hehe.

Teleportation goes long distance

Friday, August 20th, 2004

The BBC is reporting that physicists have carried out successful teleportation with particles of light over a distance of 600m across the River Danube. Here’s kind of how it works:

Researchers from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Science used an 800m-long optical fibre fed through a public sewer system tunnel to connect labs on opposite sides of the River Danube.

The link establishes a channel between the labs, dubbed Alice and Bob. This enables the properties, or “quantum states”, of light particles to be transferred between the sender (Alice) and the receiver (Bob).

In the computers of tomorrow, this information would form the qubits (the quantum form of the digital bits 1 and 0) of data processing through the machines.

The Austrian team encoded their qubits using a property of light particles, also called photons, known as polarisation. This property describes the direction in which they oscillate.

Quantum teleportation relies on an aspect of physics known as “entanglement”; whereby the properties of two particles can be tied together even when they are far apart. Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”.

So now you know.

Georgia offers S Ossetia pull-out

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Looks like Georgia may be getting cold feet, as the prospect of more conflict looms. But it appears that this might not be the end of things:

Mr Saakashvili called his offer “the last chance for peace” in South Ossetia. A ceasefire deal reached last Friday has now been violated for five nights in a row, as pro-Russian South Ossetian separatists battle Georgian troops.

The report continues with a quote from Saakashvili:

“We are ready to hand over control of these positions to the tripartite peacekeeping contingent, which also includes Georgians, and leave 500 of our select fighters under our peacekeeping force quota to protect Georgian villages against attacks and possible acts of provocation,” he said.

“We are also ready to withdraw from all other positions and redeploy our forces outside the conflict zone in Gori.”

Mr Saakashvili said Georgia had sent extra troops to South Ossetia to combat smuggling, and this had “prompted vicious attacks on this contingent”.

The Georgian authorities say their troops killed eight South Ossetian fighters in the latest overnight fighting. The claim has not been confirmed.

Mr Saakashvili has said the international community should play an active role in peace talks. He called on world leaders to hold a conference on the future of South Ossetia and send Western peacekeepers to the region.

As readers may know the town of Gori is the home of a man that went by the name of Stalin. Saakashvili is playing a dangerous game here, the situation is becoming more and more fragile. Georgian troops on Ossetian land, even under the tripartite agreement could further enrage Ossetians. All of this comes on the back of reported heaving shelling in and around Tskhinvali last night.