Monthly Archive for July, 2006

Israel murders Jarno Tapio Mäkinen, a Finnish UN peacekeeper, in Khiam, Lebanon

The Israeli army murdered 4 UN peacekeepers on Tuesday July 25th in Khiam, Lebanon by dropping a precision-guided bomb on their bunker. Before dropping the lethal bomb on their heads, the Israelis had been shelling their area for more than six hours getting closer and closer to the UN post the peacekeepers were occupying. The post had been there for years making it impossible for the Israelis not to have known it was there.

The Israeli artillery was firing within 150 metres of the UN post while the UN peacekeepers were calling the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) repeatedly informing the IDF they were firing upon UN peacekeepers and asking them to stop. The killing blow came from a precision-guided bomb, which by definition had to have been targeting the very bunker the UN peacekeepers were in despite knowing the UN peacekeepes were in it.

The Israelis say Hezbollah has been using the Khiam area to launch rockets into Israel justifying shelling the entire area into smithereens. The Israeli policy is apparently to carpet bomb areas where Hezbollah is operating from without consideration of who else is inhabiting said areas. No wonder people outside of Israel (and US) are not too keen on the latest Israeli offensive against Lebanon.

The Israeli response to the attack has been two-fold. While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed “deep regret” over the attack, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni basically stated (paraphrased) “tough cookies, people die in a war”.

As expected, the United States backed Israel by blocking a UN Security Council resolution condemning the attack.

One of the UN peacekeepers killed in the attack is a 29-year old Finnish lieutenant captain Jarno Tapio Mäkinen from Turku.


Spam as art

Alex Dragulescu is producing computer generated images out of spam messages. He’s written algorithms that produce plant/flower-like images based on the sender, send time and keywords in the message.

He’s got more sample images up on his Spam Plants project website.


Today’s best bad idea pt II

Not content on charging gamers $60 every 12 months for a roster update, EA Sports and ESPN are putting up a preview video of their upcoming Madden 07 video game on pay-per-view TV for $20 per pop.

That’s, like, so rad kewl.

If anyone who’s not stoned or underage or both is willing to pay for watching a 60-minute advertisement, I’d be very surprised. But you can’t fault EA for trying. After all Greed Is Good ™.


Today’s best bad idea

Parker Brothers, makers of the board game Monopoly, have decided they’re going to get rid of the paper money from the game and replace it with fake debit/credit cards. They’re phasing out the paper money version in favor of a version that comes with a fake card reader/calculator that keeps track of everyone’s money. Parker Brothers is explaining the move by saying the game is moving on with the times, as less and less people are using paper money to pay for their (real) purchases.

Earth to Parker Brothers: games are not real life.

That’s not really what happened though. This is what really happened.

Visa, whose brand is going to get plastered all over the fake cards and readers, contacted Parker Brothers and said: “Hey dudes, how swell would it be if we paid you a god awful lot of money to get rid of that unbranded paper money, and instead provided you with all this newmangled technology so that we could brainwash all Monopoly players that Visa is where the credit’s at? We here at Visa have done some market research and we figure the younger we catch our marks, the more they’re gonna be using our products. What better way to increase our marketshare than infiltrate kids’ games with our brand.”

Looks like Parker Brothers got bought out and forgot what Monopoly is really about. It’s about waving your thick wad of cash in front of your younger brother’s face, it’s about teaming against your cousins and lending money to your brother so that he doesn’t go bankrupt, it’s about arguing about who cheated and how much and it’s about learning money management by actually having to count how much money you have. All that stuff is going away when all you’ve got is the same fake credit card no matter how much or how little play money you’ve got.

Shame on you Parker Brothers for going for greed.


Customers pissed and retailers screwed

IHL Consulting Group, a research company serving the retail industry, has done a study on the effects of self-service checkout lines. The study concludes that customers going through self-service checkout are not buying as many impulse purchases as the customers waiting on line for a cashier. Weekly World News is likely to be rather upset about that.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d rather see the self-service checkout lines gone for good. It’s not my idea of a pleasurable shopping experience when at the end of it I have to inspect every can and box to figure out where the hell the barcode is. Hopefully the retailers can’t figure out how to increase impulse buying with the self-service checkout lines and are losing so much revenue it’d be more cost effective to go back to using good old-fashioned cashiers.


RIAA can not prove illegal file sharing in the courts

It looks like RIAA’s war on soccer moms is all based on bluffing.

Debbie Foster from Oklahoma basically asked RIAA to present their evidence against her. For whatever reason RIAA failed to do so and Ms. Foster filed a motion for summary judgment in her favor and the judge did so.

It looks like RIAA is using the US courts to intimidate and blackmail people. They certainly don’t seem to have any evidence against these people that would withstand even the most elementary legal challenge. How hard would it have been for RIAA to answer the request for evidence if they did have it?