... in stupidity

This is not a bomb, this is just for the lulz

Speaking about silliness of the struggle against terrorism, it seems that a bunch of people in Boston have teamed up to celebrate the one year anniversary of the aqua team hunger force LED ads bomb scare in the only sensible way, that is by putting up lots of LED art up on the streets, walls and bridges of boston:

This is interesting – it seems that a group of artists have celebrated 1-31-07 in their own way and have created a series of political themed LED art sculptures and (you guessed it) placed them all over Boston. […] Get there before the robots do. [via make check out their site for many more photos]

Re-erecting the border fences to combat piracy?

Yesterday a number of eastern european countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia) implemented the schengen agreement, by removing border control posts on the internal Schengen border crossings. Of course this does not mean that there will be no more border controls between these countries as there will be ‘random’ border police checks up to 30km away from the actual border.

As we have argued before the Schengen agreement is not so much about abolishing border(control)s but intended to modernize the system of selective admission to the national economies of western (and now central) Europe. From the perspective of nation states the ability to control the border-crossing public is traded-in for having a centralized database containing background information about suspected individuals (and stolen property) from all the member states.

Drawing of the bunker containing the SIS in a sleepy suburb of Strasbourg

For some reason this deal seems to make sense to most people (those inside the Schengen zone that is, as the external borders of the Schengen zone are much harder to cross for people trying to gain access) and so there have been various celebrations over the last couple of days. The only people who are not celebrating are those idiots from the GVU (the German equivalent of the RIAA/MPAA):

In an interview GVU’s director, Ronald Schäfer, warned that they were expecting more pirated CDs/DVDs in Germany now that the border with the Czech Republic would open (he comes short of suggesting that we should re-erect the iron curtain in order to keep those evil warez out of Germany). What a moron! He should shut the fuck up and go x-mas shopping! He probably also believes that region coding was a good idea and that piracy funds terrorism.

(infidels) كافر

12 Dec 2007 | 345 words | music war iraq stupidity

So i have been nosing around in some of the more obscure corners of the interwebs in the last couple of days and have come across a disturbing number of places where people are proudly proclaiming to be infidels (as in كافر – kuffar). See for an extremely stupid proclamation here.

Now of course there is nothing wrong with being a k�fir (i do qualify as one myself) but it strikes me as rather stupid to aggressively advertise the fact, especially if you are an occupation soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. Seems like some of them see this otherwise and run around sporting this patch:

[found via danger room’s superb ‘most awesomely bad military patches‘ series. (see my favorite patch here)].

The sorry state of mind of the wearers of this patch is probably best expressed by the lyrics of the song ‘Christmas in Fallujah‘. This masterpiece is performed by someone called ‘Cass Dillon’ but has been written and composed by Billy Joel (of ‘We did not start the fire‘ fame). Apparently Billy Joel got ‘inspired’ by letters he received from American soldiers stationed in the sandbox and this has resulted in some of the most crude lyrics ever:

It’s evening in the desert

I’m tired and I’m cold

But I am just a soldier

I do what I am told

We came with the crusaders

To save the holy land

It’s Christmas in Fallujah

And no one gives a damn


We came to bring these people freedom

We came to fight the infidel

There is no justice in the desert

Because there is no God in hell

Not sure what to say about this apart from the fact that this probably explains why the Americans still do not get what they are doing in Iraq and that you can’t really blame the Iraqis for blowing them up. Somebody better tell them that the crusaders are not exactly popular in much of the Middle East and that the most likely location of the ‘holy land’ is about 880 kilometers to the west for Fallujah.

Patrice on the Sarkozy/Schwarzenegger plan

Patrice (who refuses to have a web presence so i cannot link him) has some thoughtful comments on the recent french initiative to combat ‘casual illegal file sharing’ by having ISPs terminate internet connections of ‘persistent pirates’. Apparently ISPs have to monitor the data streams of their subscribers and report those who are engaging in file sharing to an ‘independent body’1 who can then issue warnings and after two warnings order the ISPs to terminate the internet accounts of the ‘pirates’. sounds a bit like the Californian three-strikes-and-you-are-out regulation and i guess that is why Tilman Lueder calls this the Sarkozy/Schwarzenegger plan’.

Sarkozy himself prefers to call this ‘A decisive moment for the future of a civilized internet’, something which is hard to argue with as this will most likely result in lots of dumb-ass adolescents being disconnected form the internets which in turn will result in less nonsense being posted to youtube and less time wasted on myspace and facebook, which is a good thing. plus this will give these kids plenty of time to acquire the skills they need to participate in the 21st century knowledge economy (by reading good old fashioned books and writing letters to each other). sounds like a seriously well thought out plan to me….

But before i get carried away, here is what Patrice had to say on the good old (in fact so old that the archive has not caught up yet so i cannot link) nettime mailing list. He is quoting this BBC news article before his comments so you might want to read that first:

From all the “clue-less about the Internet” politicians, the French would seem the ones who have put the most ‘less’ into the ‘clue’ (Thank you, Gunner ;-) This impression, alas, is very deceptive. They have probably thought the most of all about it, and they came to very, very wrong conclusions and decisions. This of course, with not a little help of the lobbying industry, but mainly because of their own (mis)representation of what the whole issue is about. And to understand that you have to dig deeper.

French ‘Republican’ intellectuals, from which class politicians are coming to a (wo)man, hold two beliefs that are deeply inimical to the Internet economy as we know it (for a large part): a quasi-religious faith in the ‘moral right’ of the (intellectual) author, which, suitably reformulated to the wishes of the ‘creative’ industries, gives it a much higher moral highground than in the rest of the world (piracy becomes then the real thing). And, less well known, an abhorence of ‘gratuity’ (“La gratuite, c’est le vol” – ‘gratuity = theft’ is a very commonly held opinion). Getting things for free, or to be more precise, without payment in legal currency, is considered unlawful by default, because harmful to the proper order of society. (Hence France also going after ‘LETS’ systems, for instance)

These two comvictions are then combined with yet another commonly held belief in political circles, subsumed in the funny 1970s slogan “In France we don’t have oil, but we have ideas!”. This has led to a very peculiar, that is litteral, interpretation of the “Oil of the 21st Century” concept, loudly advocated by prominent public economists like Alain Minc and Jacques Attali2. The French ‘knowledge economy’ shall be firmly copyright based – or bust. All this results in an irresistible aggregate argument to legislate for ‘robust protection of intellectual property’, against which more enlightened critics in the digital community and some intellectual circles (eg the group around the review ‘Multitudes’) are rather helpless.

And how pig-headed the French position may look like, it could well provide an attractive example for other legislations, especially the more authoritarian ones, to follow.

On a more serious note i have to agree with Patrice here. If this plan is really going through this will almost definitely make the copyright ayatollahs in other countries salivate for similar arrangements… [in fact they (a.k.a the Phonographic Inquisition) already are]

  1. Given the composition of the group that came up with this plan (the copyright/entertainment industry mafia and the ISPs/telcos) this should probably be read as ‘without any representation of consumer interests’ ↩︎

  2. [On 27/11/07 Patrice posted the following correction]: Miguel Afonso Caetano send me a rejoinder which I think I should share with the list since he didn’t post it himself. Apparently I am/was deeply wrong about Jacques Attali stand on IP, portraying him as a fundamentalist. I must confess that my pronouncement was based on a limited knowledge of his work, since I read only one book of his (forgot the title – and he wrote so many… ;-( where I got the impression that he put a lot of trust in knowledge as a marketable good (and he was refering to copyright I am sure – but then…) In any case I am glad there is a voice of reason among hi-profile, mainstream French intellectuals. ↩︎

Two reasons why i wont buy an iPhone

01 Oct 2007 | 123 words | technology stupidity

#1: the first iphone i saw in the wild in the netherlands (o.k vincent evers’ iphone does not count because he is making a fool out of himself by riding around on a segway all the time) was carried by a 19 year old white boy who got off the train in breukelen when i was going to rotterdam yesterday evening.

#2: because apple is acting like the borg these days: there is a brilliant mash-up of one of the ‘think different‘ apple ads that pretty much sums it up (even more so, this really makes me think about switching away from apple).

update [16.oct.07]: most stupid post ever, should have never posted this pathetic nonsense. see here why i will buy one

Future generations will be lost...

09 Jul 2007 | 331 words | amsterdam maps tourism stupidity gps

And i mean this literally. I have already written about the degrading orientation skills of London cab drivers, but in the last couple of days i noticed a much more alarming trend. on three occasions i have spotted people using those irritating gps based car navigation units to walk(!) around town. Friggin’ insanity! what do people think they have brains for these days?

First time i noticed this was in the phone shop where two female japanese tourists enquired about the stand alone gps units and bought one although the sales-clerk warned them that it only had map data for the Benelux on it. They replied that they were fine with Amsterdam and Bruxelles and needed nothing else, bought it and left the shop. Then the other day i saw a group of tourists wandering along the canals one of them holding one of these units in his hands. Tonight cycling back form central station i noticed two teenage girls walking along the street both of them staring on the screen one of them was holding one of these devices in her hands:

This time i actually stopped and asked them what they where doing with with that thing. they replied that they used it as a map as they were not form here (obviously! – judging by their accent they came from some Scandinavian country) and that it was in fact much better than a map as they never managed to properly read traditional maps anyway.

I think this fundamentally disturbs me. makes me wonder if people will start removing parts of their brains in order to lose weight. On the bright side this of course points to a much better future for the inhabitants of major touristic hotspots as they won’t be asked for the directions all the time anymore. Thinking of this, this might actually mean that one day in the near future drunken British males will be able to find the amsterdam red light district by themselves…

Apparently the war on terror has been won

01 Jul 2007 | 292 words | terrorism media stupidity england

Have been following the recent events in the UK with a mix of amusement and amazement. Did not really expect that the next ‘wave of attacks‘ would be even more incompetent than the last one.

There are a couple of good articles that call these ‘terrorist attacks’ for what they are (‘Terrorist Special Olympics in the UK‘ on Bruce Schneiders blog, ‘Beavis and Butthead in London jihad‘ by Thomas C Greene and ‘‘al-Qaeda’ puts on big shoes, red nose, takes custard pie‘ by Lewis Page both on the register). All three are well worth reading. This quote from the article by Lewis Page kind of sums it up:

If these guys at the weekend really were anything to do with al-Qaeda, all one can really say is that it looks as though the War on Terror is won. This whole hoo-ha kicked off, remember, with 9/11: an extremely effective attack. Then we had the Bali and Madrid bombings, not by any measure as shocking and bloody but still nasty stuff. Then we had London 7/7, a further significant drop in bodycount but still competently planned and executed (Not too many groups would have been able to mix up that much peroxide-based explosive first try without an own goal).

Now we have this; one terror-clown badly burnt and nobody else hurt at all. An event about as significant as the teenagers burning cars down my way – and don’t I wish those little sods got as much police attention and jail time.

Reading this article brought back some fond memories of blowing up propane gas canisters in on construction sites in Hannover Davenstedt when i was 14 or so. And in case you are intrested in real car bombs, go read this book

One more reason why second life is sick...

08 Feb 2007 | 260 words | climate cange internet dubai stupidity

I have never really understood the appeal of second life. Don’t really like the esthetics and never really got the concept of hanging out in some fantasy world that makes no sense whatsoever (if you really need that you should probably just head over to dubai). Now i have been musing about energy consumption here before, but if it is really true what this number crunching blogger writes, the playing second life is not only stupid but outright sick:

If there are on average between 10,000 and 15,000 avatars “living” in Second Life at any point, that means the world has a population of about 12,500. Supporting those 12,500 avatars requires 4,000 servers as well as the 12,500 PCs the avatars’ physical alter egos are using. Conservatively, a PC consumes 120 watts and a server consumes 200 watts. Throw in another 50 watts per server for data-center air conditioning. So, on a daily basis, overall Second Life power consumption equals:

(4,000 x 250 x 24) + (12,500 x 120 x 24) = 60,000,000 watt-hours or 60,000 kilowatt-hours

Per capita, that’s: 60,000 / 12,500 = 4.8 kWh

Which, annualized, gives us 1,752 kWh. So an avatar consumes 1,752 kWh per year. By comparison […] the average citizen of Brazil consumes 1,884 kWh, which, given the fact that my avatar estimate was rough and conservative, means that your average Second Life avatar consumes about as much electricity as your average Brazilian.

This pretty much places people who play second life in the same league as those who drive SUVs in urban environments.

There may have been too much hyperventilating going on ...

29 Aug 2006 | 344 words | airtravel media security terrorism stupidity

Mondays New York Times ran an extensive article about the details released about the british ‘terror’ scam of early August. The article based on statements from five senior British officials pretty much confirms what other sources had admitted immediately after the scare: the whole fuzz was apparently about a couple of kids who did not even know how to blow up planes at all. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:

But British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. […]

In fact, two and a half weeks since the inquiry became public, British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks or how many planes were to be involved. They say the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated.[…]

Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne.

A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality, said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, “in theory is dangerous,” but whether the suspects “had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen.” […]

“In retrospect” said Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department, “there may have been too much hyperventilating going on.”

Hyperventilating indeed! now we only need someone to explain how not allowing you to bring lots of stuff on board of a plane, confiscating old ladies moisturizing cream, making you wait in tents on rain-swept airport parking lots, sticking sub-machine guns in your face and generally behaving like arrogant cunts is going to prevent kids who have no clue about blowing up planes from blowing up planes…

We behave like bitches

27 Aug 2006 | 446 words | terrorism london airtravel stupidity security

So i am back at London heathrow, waiting for my connecting flight to Amsterdam. To get from my arrival gate to the departure hall i had to clear a third(!!) security check since arriving at the airport in Delhi. (the first one being the standard delhi airport one and the second a special one by BA just before boarding the plane because they are obviously not trusting the Indian authorities). Now they must be selling explosives and machine guns on board of planes these days otherwise searching everyone after leaving a plane is a rather silly exercise…

Anyway, this time they apparently found something in my carry-on baggage so a young screener started removing items one-by-one from my bag. As she had told me that i probably had something liquid in my bag (and i was sure i had not) i was starting to take the piss out of her commenting every item she removed with a description of it and the addition that it was solid/not-liquid. however the last thing she pulled from my bag was a half empty 20ml tube of sunscreen which either had not been considered to be liquid before or they had not seen the pervious two times. This made me look rather stupid in any case.

After finishing my search her shift had ended and she left which is why we ended up next to each other on a escalator a little bit further in the terminal building. I told her that my behavior hadn’t been meant personal. surprisingly she thanked me and immediately started to complain about her job which she said she ‘hated’ because she had to take away stuff from people that was clearly not dangerous, like taking away perfume from old ladies and such. she then went on to say:

i dont want to curse, but me and my colleagues we behave like bitches

Apparently she was only on the job for four days (which means that either she picked a bad time to start or that they are hiring lots of new staff at Heathrow to cope with the mess they have created for themselves (and do not do very intensive security screenings of their new screeners) and absolutely hated it because most of the stuff she had to do made no sense whatsoever.

I for my part will try to avoid both British airports as well as British Airways in the future. Kind of hope that both BA and the BAA go bankrupt because nobody will want to use their services anymore. If i was them i would really start pressuring the government to stop acting silly and focus their energy on useful things.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: