Monthly Archive for October, 2006

Jack Thompson makes up with Bully

Video gamers’ favorite lawyer, Mr. Jack “Thumper” Thompson, has been caught schmoozing with the main character from the video game Bully.

We’re eagerly anticipating further developments in this breaking story.


How the online gambling bill came to be

Way to go Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)! You must be one proud asshole having successfully blackmailed the entire legislative branch to get a pork barrel bill added to the Port Security bill at the last minute and guaranteeing nobody would ever read it before voting on it.

C|Net and Politech’s Declan McCullagh has more on similar sneaky senate tactics.

Somehow I don’t think this is exactly the way the founding fathers imagined the process when they came up with it.


The beginning of the end for

Visa has stopped processing credit card payments for

Looks like the US is pulling no punches trying to get the site shut down.


Just say no to EA

You know, every time I start thinking EA might’ve done the right thing and I’m considering taking them off my shitlist, they do something so completely boneheaded you have to wonder if all their people have sold their souls to the devil.

This time, instead of f***ing their employees, they’re f***ing their customers. That’s not really new to EA, but the way they’re doing it this time is pretty incredible.

Battlefield 2142, a new shooter game from EA, is accompanied by a piece of spyware that scans your PC for your browsing activity and “other computing habits”, whatever the hell that means, and then send all that data to EA. You can not play the game without installing that piece of software on your computer.


The Banker to the Poor wins 2006 Nobel Peace Prize

That prize couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person.

Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh is the founder of Grameen Bank, a bank that’s pioneered using microloans in 3rd world countries to rid the world of poverty. It’s been a phenomenal success in every way, including financially.

You can read more about him and his bank from his excellent autobiographical book Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty.


The Gizmondo story

Wired has an excellent article about the rise and fall of Stefan Eriksson, a one-time organized crime boss in Uppsala, Sweden.

Mr. Eriksson was first convicted of a crime when he was 19. He tried robbing an armored van. He continued progressing on his criminal career until 1993 when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud and trying to spread counterfeit currency in Sweden. He got out at 2000 and disappeared for a year or two.

He joined Gizmondo, a manufacturer of a portable video gaming device, with some of his fellow criminals soon after his release from prison. His compensation in this startup that had no revenue was almost $3M in 2004. Interesting way to run a startup. Not surprisingly Gizmondo filed for bankruptcy soon after it became apparent their portable gaming device would never be able to compete with the Nintendo DS and Sony Playstation Portable. The creditors’ accounting people are now wondering how did this company manage to spend nearly $400M USD in three years while generating little or no revenue. One can only assume the several luxury cars and over-the-top compensation of the company directors has something to do with it.

The downfall of Mr. Eriksson begun when he crashed his (stolen) Enzo Ferrari in Malibu last February. The police thinks he was driving the Enzo at more than 160mph at the time of the crash. Some estimates even say the speed of the vehicle might’ve been as high as 190mph. Mr. Eriksson first tried lying about who was driving the vehicle. He told the police at the accident scene a man named Dietrich had been driving and he had fled to the surrounding hills. Too bad the driver’s side airbag in the car had Mr. Eriksson’s blood on it. That’s not the only thing his blood revealed…his blood alcohol level was .09. The legal limit in California is .08.

That would’ve made the accident pretty routine, although expensive and high speed, DUI, but that’s not all that happened on that highway. Soon after the accident two vehicles stopped and two people stepped out. They flashed some official looking badges and identified themselves to the police as DHS officials and demanded they speak with Mr. Eriksson immediately. The following morning, a motorist who had stopped to help found out that a revolver had found itself under the front seat of his car. Apparently Mr. Eriksson’s associate who had come to the accident scene had dumped the gun under the seat while borrowing his cellphone.

The police investigation that followed soon found out that most of the Eriksson’s associates, incl. the two “DHS officials” were members of a police force for a local bus company, which owned not a fleet of buses, but one bus. Everyone was puzzled as to why a bus company operating a single bus would need a police force. It turns out Mr. Eriksson had made a business arrangement with the owner of the bus company. In exchange of installing free security equipment in the bus company’s premises, the owner of the bus company agreed to hire Mr. Eriksson and his former crime buddies as his police force. California state law allows bus companies to operate their own security forces and gives them some of the same powers than regular police forces have. Specifically it is easier for the members of such security forces to acquire guns, which is apparently why Mr. Eriksson and his buddies were attracted to the idea of becoming police officers. Several guns were confiscated from his and his associates’ homes. Some of the people involved are now charged with impersonating police officers.

As if that wasn’t quite enough, it turns out the Enzo Mr. Eriksson crashed wasn’t owned by him, but a bank in United Kingdom, which leased it to him. Mr. Eriksson had smuggled the Enzo, along with a second Enzo and a McLaren SLR, to United States when he moved there. His leasing agreement prohibited that, and additionally he had stopped making car payments, so all cars techincally belonged to the banks. One of the cars was, in fact, had already been reported as stolen by the bank financing it.

As a result Mr. Eriksson is now looking at seven felony and two misdemeanor charges.

Fascinating story of high life, crime and video games.


Free speech is death in Russia

Anna Politkovskaya, an award winning journalist and vocal critic of Vladimir Putin and other corrupt Russian leaders, was murdered in Moscow this evening. She was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building.

Let’s see who’s found to be responsible, if anyone.


You probably didn’t know Mark Foley was a Democrat

So Fox News reports on the Mark Foley scandal, and runs a ticker underneath stating Mark Foley is D-FL.

Malicious mudslinging or a revelation of the subconscious of Fox News producers? Who knows.

They claim that it was a honest mistake, of course. But how on earth could you make a mistake about that? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to not know he’s a Republican.


Torture good, online poker bad

The US Congress passes a bill that requires financial institutions to monitor and block financial transactions to and from online gambling businesses. The bill also requires ISPs to respond to “takedown notices” from the US Government to remove any links to online gambling businesses from websites hosted with them.

The bill was passed as a rider in the Safe Port Act of 2006.

Rider bills are so much fun.

Online gambling phobition will be enacted as soon as George W. Bush signs the Safe Port Act of 2006. Let’s see how “creatively” this prohibition gets circumvented.