Whisper it, the ‘T’ word

Reading the news about the letter bombs sent to various motoring agencies this morning, I noticed a lack of the T word, terrorism in many of the reports. Sounds like a cast iron case (in my opinion) for the use of such a word.

Now I don’t want to make unfounded suggestions but if letter-bombs were sent, say from an Islamic source, to say a governmental department (of which capita and the dvla are not far from being) the newspapers would be swimming with headlines such as terror threat, campaign of terror etc etc. Now I am not trying to make any sort of judgement, simply pointing out the perceptual difference that would occur if the targets were slightly different. People are still being injured, maybe the bombs are not intended to harm, but then again even the act of attempting to send such devises constitutes terrorism so that doesn’t really count.


But I guess seeing as it’s seemingly a (white urban male) nutter with a grudge against driving laws then I guess it doesn’t qualify. Which begs the question, what exactly is terrorism? But even weirder is the complete lack of any suggestion this is terrorism, so what is it about the story that made this simply a crime and not an act of terrorism? The perpetrator (whom we know nothing about), the targets (as mentioned effectively governmental departments) or the size of the explosives?

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Big Brother is watching you – but it’s okay, they are really really stupid, so don’t worry

My god, could channel 4 handle this any worse? Maybe if they invited the BNP onto BBLB to discuss their policies? I am pretty sure when Orwell wrote 1984 he assumed that those in charge in his dystopian future would actually know what they were doing, indeed most dystopian futures seem to assume that the government/dictators/ruling classes are always one step ahead of the proles. Well if there is one thing Channel 4 prove, it’s that there is little chance of this coming true as most people in extreme power appear to be blinded it and tend to make rather silly judgments. I mean how else can you explain the the massive cock-up by channel 4 last night when they declared ‘to save Shilpa text xxxxx’ rather than the correct version ‘to evict Shilpa text xxxxx’. Worse PR evar.

Not to be outdone, Kevin Lygo, director of programmes at Channel 4 declared today that:

“This was in danger of being the most boring BB that we’d had in many years, maybe ever…..

……Lygo admitted wondering “what can we do?” before the race row “erupted into this extraordinary story”.

Wow, nothing like a bit of racism to spice things up eh? I dred top think how they are going to top that.

Computer Generated Art

I love the idea of computer generated art, problem is that computers lack that subjectivity that determines what we judge to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art. That’s why using computers for what they are good at, processing millions of functions a second, alongside a person’s innate ability to ‘choose’ between two or more objects is a very interesting idea. Take del.icio.us popular, Amazon’s web services, Digg , YouTube etc etc. What rises to the top is generally considered ‘good’ the millions of less ‘good’ items remain languishing in the chaos. I have experimented with Genetic Algorithms to produce images for a while now, problem is that as each image is technically unique, you tend to end up with chaos.

William Poundstone, author of The Recursive Universe, contrived an analogy to illustrate why searching huge Borgian libraries of knowledge is as difficult as searching the huge Borgian library of nature itself. Imagine, Poundstone said, that there is a library with all possible videos. Like all Borgian spaces, most of the items in this library are full of noise and random grayness. A typical tape would be two hours of snow. The main problem with searching for a viewable video is that no title, call name, or symbol of any sort could represent a random tape in any less space or time than the tape itself. Most of the items in a Borgian library are incompressible into anything shorter than the work itself. (This irreducibility is the current definition of randomness.) To search the tapes, they must be watched, and therefore the information, time, and energy needed to sort through all the tapes would exceed the information, time, and energy needed to create the tape you wanted, no matter what the tape was.

Source: Kevin Kelly

I just wish I was better at programming so I could attempt to sift through the chaos.

Big Brother is watching you

So might as well wade into the extremely sensitive debate about racism in the Sleb Big Brother house. Although being the leftie pinko liberal that I am, I want to talk about the issues surrounding the subject rather than throwing accusations at certain members of the house (although I must admit I am pretty disgusted and ashamed at the actions of the English contestants, regardless of the semantics).

Whether you believe this is racism or not, covert or overt, direct or non-direct, several of the affected parties are not going to do too well out of this. Channel 4 can continue to pretend there isn’t a problem and act as if 30,000 complaints to Ofcom and the suspension of 3 million pounds worth of advertising revenue, it seems as though C4 think its all far too difficult (or sensitive) a situation to get involved in. I think at it’s core the reason this has arisen is due to people not wanting to open a discussion about racism in case they realise that they may have racist tendencies themselves, much easier to hope it’s all just bullying because that’s easier to pigeon-hole and blame on other factors (difficult childhood etc). But racism is a different matter; it can’t be tolerated so no amount of excusing is going to placate the situation. Yet if Channel 4 had been a little more honest with themselves and others then this could have been dealt with in a much more open manner. Take the Big Brother homepage, hmmm, don’t seem to see much about the ‘r’ word that has coasted 3 million, been commented on by the two Prime Ministers of this country as well as the foreign secretary and the Indian Government. As Jeff Jarvis has said, you must host the conversation, not try and control it as it will just be taken somewhere else where you can’t respond.


I think the only good thing that can come out of this is the instigation of a proper discussion on racism in this country, we have all got a little complacent with Britain being a tolerant society, which in the most part it is. Although it seems that dark elements are behind this facade of tolerance just waiting to come out whenever someone (of a different culture) annoys us.

So what should C4 do? I think it’s a little late now, the point of no return was probably after airing last nights program in which was arguably the episode which cemented people’s perception that racism surely exists in the house (the perception that I also share). You know it’s far too late when the Ofcom site crashes due to heavy traffic.


Oh and maybe when you publically embarrass the Prime Minister in waiting at the same time as asking the government for more cash. Also not very clever.

Oh and how about this for a robust defense:

When the Daily Mirror approached the Channel 4 chief executive, Andy Duncan, yesterday, he scowled and stuck his finger up at the photographer and refused to comment.

Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson avoided commenting on the issue this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Johnson was repeatedly asked about Celebrity Big Brother, but said only that Channel 4’s views had already been made known in a written statement.

No-one from Channel 4 defended the programme on the network’s 7pm news last night.


Oh dear, textbook example of how to handle accusations of racism very very badly. Ofcourse as some have suggested this may all be intentional anyway, which really makes you feel sick.

iPhone, iSaw, iConquered

Hmmm iPhone. Really really want one….yeah I’d feel like a poser for the first couple of months, but it would be worth it.

Seems as though rather than make the same mistake as in 2001 when various websites berated Apple for getting into a bloated market too late, it seems said people are now attempting to undermine the iPhone with either what it doesn’t do or issues that could apply to existing mobiles (rather than a direct attack on the phone – which seemingly rocks).

The Nokia guy responded by stating that the iPhone is not 3G so not great. Others state it’s only on one carrier (Cingular) so not so great.

All a little screaming at the moon if you ask me, I have never really enjoyed using a mobile, I have got used to their increasingly bizarre ways of performing tasks; deleting texts when a phone call arrives, navigating through twenty screens to find my sent texts, not being notified that the memory is full (just failed sent messages), weird ways of organising lists, having to learn each model’s little traits such as convoluted locking mechanisms and clunky interfaces, the list could go on and on.

When it comes down to it, I want to do the simple things well, why this has been such a problem for mobile manufacturers, I don’t know. Now they are collectively bricking it at the prospect that a company has figured out the best way to perform the simple functions (voice, text, email, internet, music).

Although there are some pretty valid points some raise:

I can’t imagine keeping a screen clean where it’s the primary source of input. At least on the modern-day Treos you can enter pretty much anything via the keyboard and the 5-way input button.

Although to be fair the iPod doesn’t come with any protective/cleaning materials, they leave that to the baying mob of peripheral manufacturers.

Bet you someone will produce a finger sock.

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