Pixelated Minstrel Shows

After the Manhunt debacle, where Sony and Rockstar North have been accused of influencing the murder of a UK school boy by another teenager, the International Herald Tribune has ran an article on the racist nature of many video games.

This is not another story about neo-nazi coded games like Concentration Game Commander, but games from reputable games publishers. Trapped in the journalists cross-hairs was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – the latest installment in one of the most successful game franchises ever. San Andreas takes the stealing, shooting and driving to the ‘hood, based on the 90’s Compton style ganglands. One interviewee, a black executive described the game as a ‘pixelated minstrel show’.

GreatAdvice: Google Hack For Pirates

Robin sent through this search string for Google to get those elusive pirate MP3s off the web.

?intitle:index.of?mp3 nameofartisthere

Selling Your Soul To The Man

From Out-Law.com, does that mean that they can suck your dreams out and steal the joy from your soul?

Telco owns ex-employee’s idea, says appeals court


A Texas appeals court has ruled that telecoms giant Alcatel owns the rights to a former employee’s idea to convert old computer code into new languages, even though it existed only in his head at the time of his employment.

The case was brought in April 1997 by DSC Communications (subsequently acquired by Alcatel), against employee Evan Brown, who had never committed his thoughts to paper during his time with the company.

The company argued that Brown, who had been working with DSC for 10 years, withheld his idea for software, in spite of a contract requiring him to disclose any inventions he conceived or developed in the course of his employment. In the lawsuit, the company sought possession of Brown’s thoughts.

Brown had conceived a method for converting machine-executable binary code into high-level source code that he developed, he claimed, in his own time and not in the course of his employment.

He told his employers that he had an idea that he wanted to pursue with his employers’ support – but he did not reveal what it was. DSC demanded that Brown disclose the idea, claiming that it owned the thought, even if it was not expressed in any tangible form at the time. When Brown refused to disclose it, he was fired and sued.

In July 2002, five and a half years after the action was raised, Alcatel prevailed. The Texas district court reasoned that Brown’s employment contract was valid and enforceable. Therefore his thoughts, which were characterised as “invention” in the decision, should be disclosed to Alcatel. The judge also ordered Brown to pay Alcatel’s legal fees, which exceeded $330,000.

Brown appealed, claiming that his idea had not been completely “made or conceived” by that time and therefore the terms of the employment contract did not apply. He also argued that the contract violated public policy, was ambiguous and unconscionable.

On 28th June this year the Court of Appeal in Texas rejected all these arguments, and upheld the validity of the employment contract. Alcatel, said the court, “owns full legal right, title and interest to the process and/or method” that forms Brown’s idea.

Brown’s lawyer has now filed a motion seeking a rehearing of the appeal.

Dating Tips

US mobile phone company Cingular has come up with an Escape-A-Date service. An example, from their press release:

Hey, this is your escape-a-date call. If you’re looking for an excuse, I got it. Just repeat after me, and you’ll be on your way! “Not again! Why does that always happen to you? … Alright, I’ll be right there.” Now tell ’em that your roommate got locked out, and you have to go let them in. Good luck!

Maybe this should be best aimed at people who find their loved ones online at Girls Behind Bars.


A new webzine with an unfortunate title that brings to mind the lunatics of the UK Independence Party. The fanzine aims to bring together the best and latest happenings in European culture. It will be published in a number of European languages on a monthly basis. You can find it here.