Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Tom (of plasticbag.org) squirrelled this link away in his sidebar, but I thought it was worth its own post.

The Avon & Somerset Police have put up a site with audio from real Emergency number calls to the 999 (the UK equivalent of 911) line. I'm always shocked at what motivates people to call police emergency-- I will always call when I witness an injury or accident or car broken down, but I also know a lot of people who have to be pushed to the brink to call the police. And then of course, there are these people who completely misunderstand the concept and call whenever they're upset, no matter the reason. Some of the calls aren't that funny, but a few are real gems, so I've linked directly to those below:

*I've lost my glasses and can't peel my potatoes...
*My wife only left me 2 sandwiches!
*Liverpudlian: My Pigeon Hell


Thursday, November 20, 2003
What is it with this year? Celebrities seem to be dropping like flies.

This one in particular made me very sad. I remember dancing around my kitchen in socks, sliding around with my sister, imitating his spins and turns.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003
There's been a lot written about Stephen Glass in the past few months. Much of this is promotional hype for a new movie, 'Shattered Glass', that tells the story of his troubled time at the New Republic magazine, where Glass worked until 1998, when he was dismissed for fabricating dozens of stories.

Some of the buzz also seems to be righteous outrage that he would dare appear as part of an ethics panel at George Washington University (in D.C.). But really, who better to have on a panel about ethics than someone who routinely flouted them? Experts don't have to be adherents, they just have to know about their subject. If there's one thing Glass knows about, it's journalistic ethics. He just didn't bother to use any of them.

Much of the recent talk has also been about how Glass can best make amends for his transgressions. I think the answer is probably tied into this same strange juxtaposition of someone like Glass speaking at a seminar about ethics-- he ought to take the well-traveled route of the rehabilitated hacker and work to prevent other people from doing what he did. Just like a former cyber-criminal working for an Internet security firm, Glass could volunteer some substantial amount of time with an organisation like Poynter, teaching editors exactly how he was able to get away with the things he did, showing managers how to close ethical loopholes that he used so well. Glass knows where the moral interstices are-- he lived in them for years, after all. We should be asking him where they are and how to plug them.


Friday, November 07, 2003
Here's an entry for the 'Bizarre Acts of Cyber-Vandalism' encyclopedia: the American Educational Research Association (AERA) website was hacked. If you're quick, you can still see the hack. Pretty artless, actually, but a strange move. Why would anyone want to hack the website of a bunch of academic researchers? It just all seems too easy.

Does nobody try to hack CNN anymore?


Monday, November 03, 2003
Thanks to a very generous travel grant, courtesy of the Dan Foundation, I got a chance to see Milan and Lake Como last week. It was a much-needed break from writing.

I was also able to take some really lovely pictures, including a gorgeous 360 degree panorama from the vantage point of Brunate. If you click the image, you'll get the whole thing, in all its wide-screen glory. (NOTE-- If you're using Internet Explorer, it will try to shrink the image to fit in your browser window. You should click the lower-right of the image when it opens, in order to expand it to its full size).
















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