Shaolin Coke


Great advert in Quicktime ‘Pepsi Can Fu’

Net Changes

Netimperative, the UK news site focusing on electronic commerce and media has finally given up its pay to view model. You can visit the site here

Next of Kin


Years ago, Liam Neeson and Patrick Swayze were in a film called Next of Kin. The plot of the film was something like this:

There was a family who lived in Appalachia, a mountainous region that includes part of Kentucky (as well as Tennessee, the Carolinas, western Virginia, West Virginia, central Pennsylvania and south western New York state). The region is isolated and poor with the main industries being lumber, coal, strip mining, tourism and whisky (the occasional cultivation of cannabis and I guess now the resale of Oxycodone, also known as hillbilly heroin), its a poor area, the people that live there are tightly bound together and do things differently.

The economic hardship is such that the best and their brightest leave to get work in the big city. Truman Gates (Patrick Swayze) becomes a Chicago police officer and specialises in working with the the underclass of economic hill folk migrants (hillbilly is an offensive term) who come a cropper in the big city. His younger brother gets killed when he gets involved with an organised crime family. Then the slop houses, mobile homes (US Eng: trailers) and rickety cabins of Kentucky empty as Briar Gates (Liam Neeson) and the rest of the poor but upright extended family decend on Chicago to take justice into their own hands. The film was a curates egg, not enough action, too much of a plot and too many messages that it was meant to convey for mainstream audiences, but at the same time it was a Hollywood production.

What it emphasised however was the diacotomy of the US, on the one hand the most advanced and powerful country on earth, on the other, these communities living in grinding poverty held together purely by old-fashioned community values.

I was reminded of this when I read this piece Where Prosecutors Say Votes Are Sold in the New York Times (registration required) about the sale of votes in the 21st century. Ross Harris, a big wheel in the political machinery in Kentucky is accused of buying votes for 50USD a time.

According to the article, one of the people accepted the money to buy a coat! Naturally people are disturbed by political corruption, however the article failed so to mention or comment on what is to me an obvious observation.

Why are the political parties not offering to improve these peoples lot? Appalachians have a history of political involvement and were at the sharp end of the American civil war, partily because the plainsmen of the Confederate states had largely denied them a political voice and their self reliant nature had meant that they did not use black people as slaves (an outcome of this was the founding of West Virginia as a state and counties called Union County and Lincoln County).

If the people are prepared to sell their vote, its probably because the changes in the political system makes no positive impact on their livelihoods or them or their children anyway. Is this the American dream? Is it right? And then politicians and economists have the gall to criticise the way European governments try in some way to look after all members of society? I would rather have a cohesive society than slightly higher economic growth rates.

If you want a more positive viewpoint on these commmunities have a look at the Center for Virtual Appalachia

Digital media — knowing your rights


Below if a very useful consumer guide to DRM was published online by the Baltimore Sun (link to the article here), presumably syndicated from the Wall Street Journal.

American Nightmare


Or why US economic policies are wrong and the European model is better

The San Diego Union Tribune carried an article on how more Americans than ever are living below the poverty line and lacking health insurance, despite improvements economic growth indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP). What job growth had been occuring had been in low paying sectors such as the hospitality industry. These figures do not bode well for the global economy as a whole, since America and is a engine for growth in the global economic machine.
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Essential details and numbers

 

– A staggering 17.6 per cent or 12.9 million American children living below the poverty line, which is obscene

– Average salaries were flat and failed to keep pace with inflation

 

– An increase of 1.3 million now living below the poverty line bringing the total to 36 million

 

– California, long America’s richest state had a higher than average 13.4 per cent of its population living below the poverty line

 

– 45 million Americans were without health insurance last year, a jump of 1.4 million, preventing them from getting access to healthcare

 

– Profits in American companies have jumped 62 per cent

The Wisdom of Irvine Welsh

 Posted by Hello

Hot Rocks


Back once again with some vinyl recommendations:

Quentin Harris – The Episodes EP (Shelter Records) – fine slab of deep house, despite the ‘hardcore’ styling of the label logo

Antonio Ocasio – Forward (Wave) – many will buy it for the Francois K remix, however make sure that you also have a listen to the tribal winds roots mix on the flipside

Massive – Unfinished Sympathy (Wild Bunch/Circa) – yes I know that this is 13 years old, but Phonica have some repressings with the original, instrumental, and Paul Oakenfold remix/instrumental on it. The only one it misses is my favourite the Nellee Hooper club mix – if you want that mix get scouring eBay. (Factoid: Massive Attack renamed themselves on a temporary basis, during and immediately after Gulf War I when they heard on the news that “the attack was swift and massive” refering to the American-led assault on the Iraqi army of occupation. Bomb the Bass temporarily changed to their producer’s name Tim Simenon. Copies of Massive Attack’s Blue Lines CD still have Massive on the disc artwork and early copies with attack missing off the cover name are sought after collectors items)

Onionz & Greg Sankovich – The Magic of Music EP (Siesta) – I didn’t know what to do my music project on in the third-year of secondary school, so did a few mini projects under the ‘magic of music’ project title, I got a good mark. Fortunately the same titled EP by Onionz is a whole lot better – more the ‘west coast hippie sh!t’ as my friend Freddy Garcia calls it. A solid slab of west coast house to put a shimmy in ya’ game

Hashim – Al Naafysh (white label) – Single-sided bootleg mix of THE electro classic, making it more friendly to use in a house set without losing its phreshness. One to drop with care for extreme dancefloor impact

Soha – Seas and Sirens (Poussez) – deep acid house from France, almost as moving as Fingers Inc. – Washing Machine, way back, back in the day. Amazing and quite hard to get hold of

Watching your Karma

What goes around comes around and all that, new MP3 pimping site with content from some 3,000 different artists launched. Not particularly easy to search from the quick scan I had of it and missing a lot of indie classics like AR Kane, but also had an unsigned section as well which is a nice touch.

Karmadownload is the name, I quite like it in a Bill & Ted kinda way – excellent. Check it out man, somehow I don’t think Apple will be looking over their shoulder just yet.

The Mother of All Websites

Mother the marketing agency are known for the their creativity, including Munkey: the one good thing to come out of ITV Digital as well as their crap hard-nosed business man and strange teaching child campaign for Orange. Anyway, smart though they are they forgot to register the dot co dot uk version of their web address. So Ben Wheatley has put up some creative ideas that he thinks they should be using instead. Ben’s work can be found here, Mother’s holding page can be found here.

Kudos to B3TA for the links

In The Sandpit

Great article in the Guardian Online on the dangers of selling internationally, but not thinking the same way from a geographer employed at Microsoft. Lessons that all international marketers should learn from. Selected highlights include:

– Showing the disputed Kashmir region as not belonging in India on a map used for setting timezones on a computer, which stopped sales of Windows 95 in the country

– Including sections of the Koran as background chants in a Mortal Combat-type game called Kakuto Chojin, it had to get pulled off the shelves soon after it went on sale (and you wonder why the X-Box doesn’t have all that many good games apart from Halo and.. and there’s erm.. erm Halo2, and.. and… erm let’s move on shall we)

– Describing April, 30th as the Queen’s birthday in the republic of Uruguay (so which queen is that then?)

Respected Members of Congress on no-fly list

Democrat Party congressman John Lewis who was a close associate of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, is on the terrorist watch list, what’s going on here. Someone find an old J Edgar Hoover memo which warned about black people in southern states getting uppity and wanting the white peoples seat on the bus? I know George Bush is conservative, but even he has two black people that I know of in his cabinet.

Lewis has distinguished company in Ted Kennedy (yes, related to Bobby and former president John F.). The bit that gets interesting is that they “can’t” take congressman Lewis off the list. The Republic Party Rally to gee up the troops for the next election starts in Nuremberg oops Freudian slip sorry New York, I wonder how many delegates will be on the no-fly list?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/20/lewis.watchlist/index.html

Maximum kudos to the Interesting People email list for this

Why ID sucks almost as much as David Blunkett

The text below is from a website belonging to John Gilmore, one of your average west coast geeks who has done very nicely thank you. John is currently taking the US attorney general to court. Whats wrong with showing ID?

What does an ID, any ID, do for security? The honest answer is ‘not much’. If anything, relying on ID for security purposes actually makes things worse.

Shwing ID only affects honest people. If you’re dishonset you can obtain false documents or steal the identity of an honest person.

If a 19 year old college student can get a fake ID to drink, why couldn’t a bad person get one, too? And no matter how sophisticated the security embedded into the ID, wouldn’t a well-financed terroriste be able to falsify that too? The answer to both questions is obviously yes.

Honest people, on the other hand go to pro-life rallies. Honest people attend gun shows. Honest people protest the President of the United States. Honest people fly to political conventions. What if those with the power to put people on a ‘no fly’ list decided they didn’t like the reason for which you wanted to travel? The honest peoople whouldn’t be going anywhere.

Bad people , besides using fake IDs and stolen identities, can also make the system of checking IDs work in their favour. The Carnival Booth effect, as described by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, means that terrorists can probe an ID security system by send a number of peoople on innocent trips through the system and noting who is flagged for extra searches and who isn’t. They then send only those who the system doesn’t flag up on terrorist missions.

Music Industry Calls Halt to Giveaway CDs

In the UK, music is licenced to help marketing campaigns by giving away music with product. This tactic has been used the UK newspaper industry to great effect. Now according to Music Week, there are those within the industry that want to stop the practice, as they feel it undermines their fight against privacy and the UK’s 50-year copyright law.

They’re wrong:

– The music has been paid for in some way, shape or form from a marketing budget

– With the alleged demise of record sales to piracy, you’d think that the industry would want to explore alternative revenue streams

– CD samplers have been used by the music industry to drum up interest and sales in artists, so these free CDs should be a benefit rather than a hinderance

– The 50-year copyright law is not about the record companies getting what is rightfully theirs, but further encroaching on consumers fair use. Should the original publisher of William Shakespeare’s works still be claiming copyright or are they a world treasure? Where do you stop? The 50-year issue has always existed the music industry was negligent in not allowing for it. Its as incompetent as someone who lives in a rented property, yet refuses to pay and then wonders why they get kicked out on to the street. Record companies have had access to the best lawyers money can buy, they have no excuse

– The 50-year copyright issue highlights a bigger problem in the music industry. That it has failed to invest in and build long-term acts on an ongoing basis and is relying on a legacy that it will be no longer entitled too. Like other industries such as the UK motorcycle and car industry, it should be allowed to pay the price for its lack of investment in talent

K-Tel beats the Smithsonian Institute

Had to share this 1970’s mock up cover for The Onion with you. Pure class; Jimmy Carter and Congress speaking via CB radio and KTel petitioning politicans to save 1970s pop music forever. Super dope stylin’, check it out