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Former Kaupthing bank boss Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson arrested in Iceland

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 21:08 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


The former President of Kaupthing Bank, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson has been arrested in Reykjavik, accused of criminal malpractice.

Police arrested Sigurdsson on the orders of Iceland’s Special Prosecutor into the banking crisis, Olafur Thor Hauksson. Hauksson and his team continue to work closely with international white-collar crime investigator, Eva Joly.

The Special Prosecutor put in a request for two weeks’ police custody to the Reykjavik District Court today, but the judge decided to adjourn the case for a day. This means that Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson will stay in police cells until tomorrow at the earliest, and possibly longer if he does not receive bail, Visir.is reports. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in jail.

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A special report on television: The lazy medium

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 20:14 by John Sinteur in category: News


Just outside Brighton, on England’s south coast, Sarah Pearson watches people watch television. She has almost 100,000 hours of video showing utterly banal scenes—people channel-surfing, fighting over the remote control and napping. Her findings are astonishing. There turns out to be an enormous gap between how people say they watch television and how they actually do. This gap contains clues to why television is so successful, and why so many attempts to transform it through technology have failed.

In the past few years viewers have gained much more control over television. Video-cassette recorders have been replaced by DVD players and digital video recorders (DVRs), both of which are easier to use. Cable and satellite firms offer a growing number of videos on demand. TV has gone online and become mobile. As a result, viewers’ expectations have changed dramatically. Katsuaki Suzuki of Fuji Television, Japan’s biggest broadcaster, says nobody feels they need to be at home to catch the 9pm drama any more.

But a change in expectations is not quite the same as a change in behaviour. Although it is easier than ever to watch programmes at a time and on a device of one’s choosing, and people expect to be able to do so, nearly all TV is nonetheless watched live on a television set. Even in British homes with a Sky+ box, which allows for easy recording of programmes, almost 85% of television shows are viewed at the time the broadcasters see fit to air them.

“People want to watch ‘Pop Idol’ when everyone else is watching it,” says Mike Darcey of BSkyB. If that is not possible, they watch it as soon as they can afterwards. Some 60% of all shows recorded on Sky+ boxes are viewed within a day. Often the delay is only a few minutes—just enough to finish the washing up or to make a phone call. For the most part, internet video is used in the same way. Matthias Büchs of RTLNow, a video-streaming website, says online viewing of a programme peaks within a day of that programme airing on TV.


Efforts to improve the TV-watching experience have often gone wrong because they took people at their word. The past ten years have seen a parade of websites and set-top boxes—Apple TV, Boxee, Joost, Roku—offering a huge range of content and interactive features. All promised to deliver TV the way people (that is, individuals) really want it. Because they failed to take account of the social nature of television, not one has caught on. Efforts to turn TVs into personal e-mail devices and home-shopping outlets have fared no better. “The killer application on television turns out to be television,” says Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the Digital TV Group.

TV is indeed a social thing – but a vapid one. Amongst my readers are no doubt quite a few who – just like me – never bother to turn the damn thing on. Tell me – do you ever run into a situation where not having watched the latest fad is in any way an inhibition to your social interactions?

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  1. When TV becomes the main converstaion subject in a small group, say while at a party or a lunch break, I could feel alienated, but I don’t. I don’t because it wouldn’t be the kind of thing I would talk about in the first place even if I watched TV. A typical conversation would be:
    Person A: Did you see Idol yesterday?? XX was so good!
    Persons B, C, etc: Yeah, right, he deserved to win, etc.
    Me: *takes another spoonful of soup*
    Person A: Patricia, did you see Idol yesterday?
    Me: No, I don’t watch it.
    Person A: Oh why not?
    Me: Because I almost puked watching five minutes of it three years ago. It’s retarded.
    Cue 30 sec of silence, and change of subject.
    Sure it’s a social thing, but there are so many different social activities that can draw people together *and* provoke intelligent discussion… which I haven’t seen around TV shows for years and years now. Are we missing something?

  2. Not really. Even the fact that I haven’t seen a single episode of Lost has caused me no problem at all 🙂

  3. @Roland: What! You have not seen a single episode of Lost??? Man, you can forget that money that I owe you!

  4. I saw one episode of Lost. That was more than enough 😀

  5. Sometimes I’m chitchatting with a collegue when he or she explains “It’s just like that commercial from **brand**, you know? With the **thing**?” That’s the moment I notice I’m missing out of so much good commercials… No really not.

  6. svtplay.se saves the day for the swede socially impeded by forgetting to watch the latest documentary. “Videocracy” was awsome and I learned that belatedly, but was able to catch up. This weekend I’ll catch up on “Bananas!”

  7. Yeah, Lost should stay that way.

  8. Surely the reason why most people watch television programmes within about 24 hours of it being screened is because they really like that programme and want to see the latest edition of it. It’s more a hoarding instinct than a desire for a watercooler moment, I think. Television fills moments of boredom well so, within that time, people will hunt for their favourite shows and watch them.

    Still, you can now discuss a programme in terms of ‘Did you see…?’ on the basis that the other person could retrospectively watch that programme online, if it’s really worth it.

Smartbooks have been delayed by Flash issues, says ARM

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 19:11 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Software


“We thought [smartbooks] would be launched by now, but they’re not,” Drew told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. “I think one reason is to do with software maturity. We’ve seen things like Adobe slip — we’d originally scheduled for something like 2009.”

So let me get this clear… a software dependency outside your control delayed your platform? Now where did I hear about this potential problem recently? And didn’t that also involve flash?

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  1. This kind of “news” looks like… orchestrated, don’t they?.

  2. Yes, but by whom, and for what purpose, are questions with so many possible answers, it really is moot to speculate.

  3. I don’t see many answers, John.
    And I know Apple has a top-level PR office, and plenty of bucks.

Toxic Oil Dispersant Used in Gulf Despite Better Alternative

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 15:33 by Paul Jay in category: News


British Petroleum and government disaster-relief agencies are using a toxic chemical to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico, even though a better alternative appears to be available.

A few scientists think dispersants are mostly useful as public relations strategy, as they make the oil slick invisible, even though oil particles continue to do damage. Others consider Corexit the lesser of two evils: It’s known to be highly toxic, adding to the harm caused by oil, but at least it will concentrate damage at sea, sparing sensitive and highly productive coastal areas. Better to sacrifice the deep sea than the shorelines.

BP: Let’s make it invisible!

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  1. I wonder what kind of logic is behind “Better to sacrifice the deep sea than the shorelines.” Better to sacrifice the basis of our food chain than some pretty beaches? Good timing to watch this recent TED talk, by the way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0VHC1-DO_8

Today’s excuse for pederast priests

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 15:07 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

Society today is pedophile, that is the problem.

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  1. It’s interesting to see that the public outcry against such scandalous statements also gets bigger and bigger in Latin America. The catholic church has lost ground in Europe for a long time. But Latin America is a different field, being a stronghold of catholicism. Until recently.

    The catholic church might be in much bigger trouble than they realize so far.

President of Nigeria Dies After Long Illness

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 14:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria, whose chronic ill health sapped initial promises of reform and led to a constitutional crisis in his country, died Wednesday night, the information minister said in a brief interview. He was 58.

If you’re related, you can expect some e-mails…

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  1. And he came into power with such promise. Just check out this video from when he was first elected…


Congress refuses to outlaw insider trading for lawmakers

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 13:59 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


Even a cynic can find Washington’s hypocrisy shocking at times. The Wall Street Journal reports today a House bill that would force lawmakers to make greater disclosures on financial transactions and disallow them from trading on nonpublic information is going nowhere fast.

That’s right. Members of Congress are currently allowed to profit on insider trading!

The bill, which has been languishing in the House for four years, would require elected officials “to make their financial transactions public within 90 days of a purchase or sale” and “prohibit lawmakers from trading in financial markets based on nonpublic information they learn on the job,” the WSJ reports.

It seems they’re above the transparency they’ve been calling for on Wall Street.

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  1. The big banks and Wall Street took billions in bailout money from taxpayers and then turned it into huge profit. Last week a veteran trader showed his insiders how the big banks made a huge power grab that allowed them to grow unchecked.

    GC report – This is important to understand why we never get out from under our banker’s thumb..We can’t beat the big banks, but we can join them.

The Copenhagen Protocol: How China and India Sabotaged the UN Climate Summit

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 13:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


What really went on at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen? Secret recordings obtained by SPIEGEL reveal how China and India prevented an agreement on tackling climate change at the crucial meeting. The powerless Europeans were forced to look on as the agreement failed.

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Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 13:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Today the first three production non-Latin top-level domains were placed in the DNS root zone. This means they are live! Here is one newly enabled domain with a functional website that works right now: وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر

If your software does not have full IDN support, this might not work exactly as expected. You may see a mangled string of letters and numbers, and perhaps some percent signs or a couple of “xn--”s mixed into the address bar. Or it may not work at all.
The three new top-level domains are السعودية. (“Al-Saudiah”), امارات. ( “Emarat”) and مصر. (“Misr”). All three are Arabic script domains, and will enable domain names written fully right-to-left. Expect more as we continue to process other applications using the “fast track” methodology.
The BBC points out that [s]ome countries, such as China and Thailand, had already introduced workarounds that allow computer users to enter web addresses in their own language. However, these were not internationally approved and do not necessarily work on all computers.

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  1. Was it necessary? I mean, *really* necessary?

    In the last 15 years everyone used the WWW with latin charachters, that are widely known in the whole world (at least as a second language). That worked pretty well.

    What’s the point in messing up the whole naming system to allow charachters that will never be used by the 99% of internet users who do not own an keyboard with arabic layout?

  2. @Mr. N Well, the point is that maybe I want the sites tor.hu (tor means wake), tör.hu (tör means break) and tőr.hu (tőr means dagger).
    Will you visit those sites? Not if you don’t speak hungarian.
    Will the “extreme” address be a problem to you if you speak it? Not at all.

    The point is dear Mr. N is that people who don’t own a keyboard with arabic layout will NOT want to visit the site, the ones who want to or would like to visit them will have an arabic keyboard.

    So what is you problem?

  3. I don’t have any issue with special latin charachters like dieresis and stressed vowels.
    I am concerned about the complexity introduced by the multiplication of standard deriving from extreme localization.

    Internet is a network that requires high interoperability and common standards: those standards must be simple and effective to be implemented properly.

    Latin alphabet has been a widespread standard for decades. In Japan and China it is used for advertising too. In Eastern Europe and middle east most of the population can recognize the symbols and write decent transliterations. Let’s add the less common charachters, I agree.

    I see no point in adding whole subset like arabic, cyrillic and chinese: the effect will be a stronger local polarization of the web-sphere, with the risk of reduction of the circulation of informations.

  4. Latin alphabet has been a widespread standard for decades

    Which one? Any of the sixteen ISO 8859 variations? Or perhaps one of the 8 Windows 125x variants? Or perhaps ISO/IEC 8859-1?

  5. @John:
    Most of them will do. Let’s just choose one and stick to it (AFAIK, we are with the ISO-8859-1 now).

    Anyway, a standard may have variations, of course, if they are well documented within the standard.
    The point is to include enough flexibility for common application, but not too much to increase complexity far beyond a reasonable limit.

  6. Let’s just choose one and stick to it

    There’s your problem, right there.

  7. Mr N.
    Why would they not add the arabic, cyrillic and chinese characters?
    You wish to ban the people who don’t know/use the latin alphabet from the internet?
    That’s kind of an elitist, “we are superior” attitude.

    You see no point, but I guess russians, chinese, japanese, arabs, koreans see the point. They want to use it easily, comfortably.
    And I hope every single character and language will be available on the net in address bars, or wherever.

  8. What problem? We have ISO-8859-1 now. Is it missing some really important charachters? Then let’s roll out ISO-8859-2. The “core” of the alphabet is the same, is widely read and understood, most of the actual technology is based on that.

    Adding whole subsets of charachters for malaysian, thai, burmese and southern estonian alphabets is just a way to ask for troubles, IMHO.

  9. @Roland
    Then let’s make a russian, chinese, japanese and arab internet. So long, world wide web: welcome Country Wide Web.

  10. Maybe we should ban people from creating web pages in any language besides English. Is there really a point to a page being there at all if Mr. N can’t read it?

  11. We have ISO-8859-1 now. Is it missing some really important charachters? Then let’s roll out ISO-8859-2.

    If you’re going to support multiple encodings in your software anyway, why not add the non-latin ones while you’re at it – you said you were concerned with the “complexity introduced by the multiplication of standard deriving from extreme localization” – but you’re willing to add as many standards as it takes. That’s not very consistent.

  12. @Karl: no problem in the page content. My concerns are about the domain names. Page content do not need to be shared and recognized trough a worldwide network of server and DNS, domain names do.
    @John: Because, while “weird” latin charachters are a subset the actual standard, other alphabets aren’t. With the actual 8-bit encoding you have enough space to support 128 more charachters: that’s enough to complete the latin set, but not nearly enough to add chinese alphabet alone (or alphabets, since there are more than one). Doing so means some drastic changes, for no real benefit.
    The first problem of adding whole new subsets with shared or similar charachters has emerged well before the implementation of the standard, and is still unresolved (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDN_homograph_attack)
    Expect more to come.

  13. @Mr. N, I think your fears are unwarranted. The unicode domains are encoded using standard latin characters, e.g., http://xn--hxajbheg2az3al.xn--jxalpdlp/. People will be able to enter them and read them in their native character sets, but they’re not going to change the infrastructure of the system. The homograph attacks are old news, and browsers have already, and will continue to take steps to protect against them. For example, browsers in English speaking countries won’t enable unicode URL display by default.. so you’ll see the encoding rather than representation.

Supreme Court Upholds Freedom Of Speech In Obscenity-Filled Ruling

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 7:38 by John Sinteur in category: Funny!


In a decisive and vulgar 7-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court once again upheld the constitution’s First Amendment this week, calling the freedom of expression among the most “inalienable and important rights that a motherfucker can have.”

“It is the opinion of this court that the right to speak without censorship or fear of intimidation is fundamental to a healthy democracy,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “Furthermore, the court finds that the right to say whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want, is not only a founding tenet, but remains essential to the continued success of this nation.”

Added Ginsburg, “In short, freedom of speech means the freedom of fucking speech, you ignorant cocksuckers.”


“I don’t know what kind of bullshit passes for jurisprudence down in the 4th Circuit these days,” Thomas wrote. “But those pricks can take their arguments about speech that ‘appeals only to prurient interests’ and go suck a dog’s asshole.”

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  1. I think the Onion missed the ball in one part of this article. They said it was the first time in the Court’s history that they’ve done this. They should’ve said it’s the first time since {fill in the blank on some other profane court ruling, presumably from the 50’s or 60’s}, with added detail about that particular ruling…


Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 6:46 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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A Weapon the Times Sq. Car-Bomb Suspect Didn’t Use

Posted on May 6th, 2010 at 6:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


The mammoth clock-to-wire-to-gasoline-to-propane car bomb that the authorities said Faisal Shahzad hoped would claim many lives in Times Square has been analyzed, diagrammed, prodded and examined. But not long before his arrest, Mr. Shahzad was also equipped with a less-eccentric — and yet more dependably lethal — weapon. And he owned it legally.

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