Negative Aspects of Paid Placement in Search Engines

In my book, The Net-Works Guide to Marketing Your Website, I took the following position on paid inclusion:

Should You Pay for a Search Engine or Directory Listing?

“No. If a search engine, directory or other site requires payment before they list you, look elsewhere. Even large search engines that charge a fee for listing are not worth your time, especially when there are so many ‘free’ search engines that are far more popular with web users.”

Times and circumstances have changed considerably since I wrote this, so I thought it might be best to clarify one or two points on the issue and indulge in a minor rant in the process.

In the last year especially, more and more search engines have started offering different models of paid entry. Yahoo! recently used their strong market position to not only adopt a compulsory paid inclusion model for any kind of business listing, but also set it up as an annual fee (more on this in a moment). Google has adopted the GoTo system (which seems to have annoyed the original creators, Overture, somewhat). With this system, known as paid placement, you pay for advertising-style placement at or near the top for keywords that you nominate. Google, of course, supplies all the back-up data for Yahoo! – who, on top of the paid inclusion method we just mentioned, have also formally teamed up with Overture to include this same model of paid placement.

It’s already looking messy, and so far we’ve only looked at three databases! So, to avoid making your head hurt and to keep things on a even keel, let’s talk about this is general terms for a short while, m’kay?

Not too long ago, most commercial sites that wanted to get your attention did so via banner ads. Why? Well, most of the marketing bods who were in charge of this kind of thing came from a traditional background. They understood the principles of paid media placement, and were comfortable with it. Blinded by stats quoting ‘millions of hits’, it took them a while to wake up to the fact that the average click-through rate for a banner campaign was somewhere around 1-5%. Some optimistic folks justified this low percentage rate with the theory that this 1-5% represented better potential customers, in that they had already been partially ‘sold’ by the ad. Others saw it to be a problem but thought that the difficulty lay in the shape or position of the banners, which I personally considered to be more than a little amusing. Do you remember the advent of the ‘skyscraper’ banner? Have you noticed how many ads are being thrown in your face via all manner of technical wizardry and interactivity?

Steve Jones of ABCnews was recently quoted as saying; “Any kind of ad that’s technically available is something we’ll consider running,” before hastily adding, “provided it doesn’t diminish the quality of ABCNews.com.”

These people are still fighting a losing battle – but many of those that did become aware of the importance of search engine optimisation did so too late – and got the wrong end of the stick in the process. Because paid placement is so prevalent these days, it’s reached the point where many SEO engineers feel it necessary to include consultation on paid placement as part of their service.

It also has to be noted that search engines and directories are under a lot of pressure from various regulatory bodies to maintain the integrity of their databases by making it very clear what is an ad and what is an actual search result – not that web users don’t know the difference already. Average click-through rates for these kinds of ads are estimated to be somewhere around, you guessed it, 1-5%. (Though it must be noted, in the spirit of fairness, that Google is trying to do the right thing in respects by offering a function that discontinues ads performing below 1% – erm, and then helpfully encourages the advertiser to take out a new ad with new wording in the hope that this will be more effective.)

Now, as the Overture model only has you paying for the traffic you receive, many people are happy with this situation – but you can see what’s happened, can’t you? Despite the illusion that this is some form of search engine optimisation exercise, it is in fact a clear and set model of paid media placement. Well, I suppose if they understand it and feel comfortable with it, the trend will continue in one form or another – but it’s this current trend that we’re talking about today, and I want to highlight a few of the negatives for you.

Some Negative Aspects of Paid Inclusion

We’ll get onto to Yahoo! soon, but first I want to tackle the issue of niche databases. Many of these are run by guys who knock together a so-called directory or search engine on a specific subject or business sector (usually by recycling someone else’s database). They will then, more often than not, email everybody they have in their new database with a message outlining how much they will have to pay for an enhanced listing, or even just to stay in the database. We enter two very, very grey areas here:

1. This kind of activity borders on unsolicited invoicing (an illegal practice in most countries).
2. It’s also borderline Spam, which they justify by wording the initial greeting as a request to have the webmaster’s ‘permission’ to list the site before, of course, swiftly moving onto the matter of payment.

With these directories, I stand by my original statement on this matter. It’s simply not worth paying to be in some two-bit directory that some idiot knocked together in his basement. But what about Yahoo!?

We’re talking about the most popular directory on the planet here, and with many of my clients I simply don’t have a choice in this matter. Because this listing is so vital in terms of basic SEO strategy, the payment has to be made. This year, and the next, and the next after that. With this we come to what I see being the biggest problem that’s going to develop in this arena unless somebody keeps a bloody close eye on it.

In my young and carefree days, I rode out the late 80′s recession as a DJ. The company I started out with ran a 1/4-page ad in the Yellow Pages and had the prime spot on the top right of the first page for mobile discos. The cost of this was somewhere in the mid 5-figure range – and seemed to go up every year. However, the poor guy who ran the company had to keep forking out year by year for fear of losing his prime spot. He also felt the need to massage whoever was top of the sales team at the time with calls and gifts, just in case they accidentally ‘lost’ his annual submission and somebody else got this top spot. He only gave up the game after it finally became economically unsustainable. Yellow Pages had him over a barrel, and he was all but forced to abandon his business as a result. This kind of crap does not make for a healthy economy.

In my less young and far less carefree days in TV advertising, I also became acquainted with one of their former salesmen who had moved into TV media sales. He told me many a tale of businesses that he had over that same barrel and the joys of commission and contra. He was, and I’m sure I can say this without offending the man, a right bastard – and therefore one of their top sales people. I’m pretty sure that, if the current situation with online directories is left unchecked, that the same will soon be said of salesmen for these top listings online, calling and emailing you from a number of different core directories with all the charm of double-glazing salesmen and with a frequency that will make you yearn for the good old days of recruitment company cold callers.

Some Negative Aspects of Paid Placement

Paid placement is advertising, pure and simple. People know what advertising is. That’s why the click-through rates are as low as they are/were for banner ads, but this is by no means the worst aspect of this kind of service.

With your typical paid placement model, you pay to be highly placed (as an ad) for search queries that you nominate. Actually, the word they use is ‘bid’, because at any time one of your competitors may choose to up the ante in order to secure the top spot ahead of you. He pays more, you pay more, he pays more, a new company comes onto the scene with a big launch budget and doubles this out of the blue – where does it end? It doesn’t. Who wins? Well, I’m sure you can guess.

The reason Google became the most popular search engine on the planet, seemingly out of nowhere, is that it included aspects in its ranking methods that improved the way that cultural forces were taken into account. Things like link popularity, link context and deeper copy indexing produced an almost supernatural ability to ferret out the best results first time, every time. Of course, a lot of SEO engineers know how to create some of these effects artificially, but Google is still one of the last places you can search for something and pretty much get the best result, based on how good the offering is and how many people believe in it – which is why I’m so surprised that they’ve gone all-out on this paid placement model. It seems to go against everything Google is supposed to stand for.

A few weeks ago, a colleague noticed an interesting ad that came up for the search query ‘child safe chat rooms‘. The top-placed ad served up to many countries had the headline text ‘SEXY CHAT & WEBCAM ROOMS’. Despite at least two formal complaints that I’m aware of, the ad still appears (albeit somewhat lower down these days – last time I looked, two other companies had outbid this advertiser).

The first thing most people point out when they see this result is that it appears to be an understandable anomaly, in that the ad is also served up for the search query ‘chat rooms’, so appears to be ignoring the words ‘child safe’ – but shouldn’t there be some form of control mechanism to stop this kind of thing from happening? Especially considering that Google has such an excellent history of removing or controlling undesirable anomalies from its general database. Why should paid listings be any different? Gosh, do you think that maybe it has something to do with money…?

Paying For Search Engine Optimisation Services

Given that I earn a living optimising sites to achieve ‘natural’ results, I really have to address this issue here or the whole article is going to come across as being somewhat hypocritical. How is paying to have your site perform better in search engines and directories different from paying the directory or search engine directly just to get the top spot?

Well, typically, things like basic keyword arming can only go so far. While you can format a page in such a way that gets you the top spot for any given search query in some search engines, in databases like Google this becomes somewhat problematic if nobody else links to your site. Establishing link partnerships (for large sites at least), costs money. Even going out and creating a bunch of fake personal sites that link to the core URL is expensive (don’t laugh – I’ve seen this done before). You can even produce multiple doorways that see you turn up for all manner of largely unrelated search queries, but this tends to piss people off more than anything.

Funnily enough, the best bet for a site that has to fight this battle is the creation of a resource (or even some form of entertainment) that gets people to link to them – and gravitate to them – naturally. This borders on viral marketing, but I don’t tend to point it out too often, as this widely misunderstood term tends to confuse some clients.

Basically, I’ve always believed that for a site to perform well in search engines – and do so consistently – it needs to offer something of value and build a relationship on this. Paid placement bypasses the need for this value.

In Summary

Look, there are lots of things that make this kind of business necessary from the point of view of the search engines and directories (after all, the money has to come from somewhere), but I still don’t believe that it’s a good thing for the average web user or site promoter.

You see a girl. Your eyes meet, there’s a moment of magic that passes between you. You ask her out, she accepts. You take her out for drinks and a meal. Discussion reveals many common interests. If all goes well, maybe afterwards you’ll go back to her place for coffee and, one would hope, the creation of the mythical hot and sweaty double-backed beast.

Of course, for the same amount of money you could just go out and have cold and impersonal sex with a prostitute. Hell, with what dinner and drinks costs these days, you could probably afford to go twice – but, despite the outlay being more or less the same, the nature of these two encounters is very, very different. Which, for example, do you think is going to be the more intimate and enriching experience for both parties? Which do you think might realistically lead to future relationship? When it gets down to it, which do you think is simply going to be the better quality shag?

Exactly.

01-15 April, 2002

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Date
20020401

Time
16:25
hehehe – I almost forgot what day it was



(In case you missed it, the Open Directory Project dressed itself up as the Microsoft Directory Project, complete with a familiar paperclip chappie that popped up to ‘help’ with your query – tee-hee.)

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Date
20020402

Time
08:50
Enjoy some really crap cartoons from the 80′s and a lot of other funky stuff at weaintcool.com (and if all this does is whet your appetite, you’ll find a great deal more at yesterdayland.com).

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Date
20020402
Attention: Students and the Unemployed
Time
08:55
Get down to the mega-funky Bargain Hunt Boogie at diffusiononline.net

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Date
20020402

Time
08:59
Meet the dickheads who invented Spam. Surprise, surprise, they’re lowlife laywers.

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Date
20020402

Time
09:18
I’m pretty sure it will disappear sometime today or tomorrow, so drop by and get a copy of the Queen Mamagotchi game from the Viz downloads page while you can.

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Date
20020402
Weekend Spam Warriors
Time
09:21
I’ve noticed that, ever since November, there’s been a notable increase in Spam over the weekend. At lot of these seem to be one-off attempts to cash in on one affiliate deal or another (in other words, a complete waste of time by some loser who doesn’t know how these things work). I’m willing to bet that this is a symptom of the recession that isn’t really happening, as more and more people get desperate enough to try this at least once.

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Date
20020402
Latest Viral Agent
Time
09:27
What a fucking joke! You may remember back in March I commented on the Pot Noodle people’s complete failure to translate their w-w-w-wacky ‘Not Poodle’ campaign to the web in any way, shape or form. Now some genius seems to think that everybody is going to flock to www.notpoodlequiz.co.uk to download an .exe file quiz. No, I didn’t link to the URL – and with good reason. The only thing hosted there is the aforementioned .exe file. I say again: what a fucking joke.

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Date
20020402
Yet Another Lame Quiz
Time
10:18
OK, but I likes this one:

Which Lego character are you?

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Date
20020402

Time
11:43
Need a new mouse? Check this one out.

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Date
20020402

Time
12:35
AOL have discovered blogs! Run for the hills!

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Date
20020402

Time
12:36
An interesting article on fair use.

Hell, it’s better than mine.

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Date
20020402

Time
12:39
A good photshopping thread at fark today, this time at the expense of Craig Barrett, Intel CEO and President.

A simple yet fun challenge, this one.

Enjoy. Vote. Wipe hands on pants.

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Date
20020402

Time
12:58
Quite a handfull, this list:

Celebrity Bra Sizes.

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Date
20020402

Time
14:25
Two escaped asylum seekers on the run from the authorities in Australia mistakenly hitched a ride from an unmarked police bus. At least they weren’t attacked by a naked carjacker (or thrown over the side).

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Date
20020403

Time
09:11
A nice way to say: ‘take this and stick it where the sun don’t shine‘.

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Date
20020403

Time
09:12
Secrets behind Google and how it works.

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Date
20020403

Time
09:15
Play a fun shell game with President Bush

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020403

Time
09:16
This Ali G competition lets you rap along to the new single ‘Me Julie’ (cool!). The prize is a shirt (amazing!). Calls to the Premium Rate telephone line cost £1.00 per minute (take this and stick it where the sun don’t shine!).

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Date
20020403

Time
09:20
Sign the World Cup Flag for England and become as unique as a million other people.

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Date
20020403

Time
10:34
A year later, and that former Hooters waitress still hasn’t got her promised ‘Toyota‘.

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Date
20020403

Time
12:07
Simon Fuller speaks.

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Date
20020403

Time
13:07
Here’s one I missed on Jesus Week: the Christian Wrestling Federation.

Praise the Lord! Pass the body oil!

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Date
20020403
Blimey! That Didn’t Take Long!
Time
13:17
Overheard in Usenet:

The Queen Mum arrives at the Royal Pearly Gates and sees Diana wearing a halo.

“Hello Diana” says the QM, “When does one get a halo like yours?”.

“Piss off granny”, says Diana, “It’s a f***g steering-wheel”.


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Date
20020403

Time
14:17
A fine collection of corporate anthems for you to enjoy.

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Date
20020403
Photoshopping
Time
14:50
It’s the invasion of the Bloody Big Original today over at Fark, but what the hell – at least I’m winning

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Date
20020403

Time
15:56
A driver who admitted having the highest alcohol reading in Scottish legal history was released on bail to celebrate his birthday.

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Date
20020403
Recycling
Time
16:16
The soon-to-be-launched worldcupatwork.co.uk plans to offer an informational interface for office workers who wish to keep up to date with the World Cup. Their USP? A panic button:

“With a simple click of a button you can hide away the world cup site you are viewing from prying eyes, and appear to be working on some proper work in one of the variety of different interfaces available including Word, Excel, and Photoshop.”

Yawn….

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Date
20020403

Time
16:33
Seriously, what kind of sicko would want one of these in the corner of their living room?

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Date
20020404

Time
09:06
Yep, there it is in black and white. You can build anything with Flash. Of course, before attempting anything this serious, you might also need these tips on how to be a web designer.

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Date
20020404

Time
09:21
My good friend from The Ultimate Insult is about to become a daddy!

Be afraid…

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Date
20020404
Giving More Than 100%
Time
09:44
I just got one of those silly-type emails from my sister, but this one bears repeating, so here goes:

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

Here’s a little math that might prove helpful.

What makes 100%?

If, A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then,

H A R D W O R K is

8 1 18 4 23 15 18 11= 98%

and

K N O W L E D G E is

11 14 15 23 12 5 4 7 5 = 96%

But,

A T T I T U D E is

1 20 20 9 20 21 4 5 = 100%

and,

B U L L S H I T is

2 21 12 12 19 8 9 20 = 103%

So it stands to reason that hard work and knowledge will get you close, attitude will get you there, but bullshit will put you over the top!

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Date
20020404

Time
11:14
Hoorah! They cured Bubble Boy.

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Date
20020404

Time
11:49
Firda has a new look. All that money must be going to her head.

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Date
20020404

Time
12:01
Purchase a Pet Penny, erm, for a dollar. Yes, I do believe they’re serious…

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Date
20020404

Time
12:07
Damn it, this was the most satisfying experience of of my day. See Toast Fiction and the classic web site that inspired it. Call me a pyromaniac if you like, but nothing, and I mean nothing beats watching stuff burn (except maybe nuking cockroaches in the microwave).

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Date
20020404
Blowing Stuff Up
Time
14:34
Toast Fiction has me going now. So far I’ve dug up some real classics, including a chap who wins awards and recognition by lighting grills with 3 gallons of liquid oxygen, an Aussie bloke I’d damn near forgotten about who made a supremely awesome Sparkler Bomb (you have to see that one), some tin fun, and the less awesome but still quite funny Twinkie Project.

My, what fun. It’s almost enough to make me forget about the lifetime scar I got from a burning PET bottle at age 14. Or the time a segment of copper bomb travelling at the velocity of a bullet missed my head by about an inch. Or the time…

OK, I’m sure you get the idea. Watch and learn, but DO NOT TRY AT HOME. Take it from someone who knows, this is dangerous stuff and the Gods are not always kind to the dumb, the stupid, and the drunk.

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Date
20020404
Photoshopping
Time
15:02
An 18-year-old man (man?) was sentenced to 30 days behind bars for superimposing a picture of his ex-girlfriend over the body of a nude woman and then posting the picture on the Internet.

The site itself is totalled, but there’s a cache of it in Google if you can be bothered to look for it. (He is a nutter, BTW – find the site and you’ll see what I mean…)

Smart chap that he is, he’s worn a hood while facing the press photographers, presumably to foil attempts to Photoshop his head onto the body of a naked chick.

Too bad they got a clear shot of him inside the court…

Cannot… resist.

Must… alter image!

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Date
20020404

Time
16:04
Seth Godin has a blog? I’m there.

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Date
20020405

Time
09:27
Following up on yesterday’s special about blowing stuff up etc., here are some consequences for you to ponder. Take my word for it, violent entertainment is dangerous. I won’t even subject you to the horrors of the Three Stooges ward.

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Date
20020405

Time
09:33
Liz Hurley had a boy. She didn’t give it a stupid name, either. OK, preparing for the DNA test in 5, 4, 3, 2….

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Date
20020405
I Miss Douglas Adams
Time
09:42
It was in 1989 that I first read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I was quite taken by the character’s navigational/investigative technique, described as follows:

“My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it’s going and follow it. I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often end up somewhere that I needed to be.”

(Douglas Adams, ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’)

I was about halfway through the book on the day when I was driving to a very unfamiliar part of town to collect a car part for my Holden Gemini (see a picture of one) from a wrecker’s yard. I was on the expressway towards this part of town when I realised that I didn’t have my UBD (street directory) with me.

‘Bugger’, I thought, as I approached the exit with no idea where to go after that…. until I realised that the truck directly in front of me had, amongst other things, a dented Holden Gemini door propped up in the back.

So I followed it.

It led me right to the wrecker’s district, of course – but the cool thing was that it pulled up right in front of the same wrecker’s yard I had called earlier that day. My part wasn’t exactly waiting for me – first it had to be unloaded from the truck I had just followed.

The man deserves sainthood for this small miracle alone. Grab a pencil and check if the gravity in your room still works. Peace of mind is a rare thing these days.

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Date
20020405

Time
11:30
Meet the rabbit who thinks your cursor is a carrot.

At least he doesn’t dress up like a woman and make me feel all funny inside.

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Date
20020405

Time
11:33
An excellent piece on street spam.

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Date
20020405

Time
13:04
Watch Michael Jackson change before your very eyes. Be amazed! Be astounded! Be very, very afraid.

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Date
20020405
Photoshopping
Time
15:46


I’ve been enjoying a good run over at Fark lately, but I know it won’t last.

<pun>

There’s always someone who’s quicker on the draw.

</pun>

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Date
20020405

Time
15:53
If you’re considering selling porn online, here’s something to chew on.

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Date
20020405

Time
17:59
Good news everybody! Enron was just the beginning!

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Date
20020408

Time
08:56
Have a safe trip!

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Date
20020408

Time
08:58
See some warning signs from around the world and the best of the fake ones from Fark.

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Date
20020408

Time
09:01
Build a pub in your back yard. Or a genuine, bonafide, electrified, six-car monorail.

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Date
20020408

Time
10:11
Michael Barrymore aims for an acting career in the States. He’s in with a chance if they need a good cameo for a remake of Sunset Boulevard.

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Date
20020408

Time
10:20
Penthouse is going broke. Could the advent of online porn be a factor? Perhaps. There’s no staples, for starters…

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Date
20020408
Photoshopping
Time
11:01
Get that authentic lightsaber effect for still or moving images.

(via the new but cool trialbyfire.tk blog)

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Date
20020408

Time
11:15
One man, 13,500 McDonalds outlets. Just keeping it down sounds like a challenge to me.

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Date
20020408

Time
11:42

I just couldn’t stop smiling when I watched this knockout music video of ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ with David Hasselhoff (click here if you have a slow connection).

It has ‘made for German television’ written all over it. Once you get to first big special effect or the tribal jumping bit, you’ll see what I mean.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020408

Time
12:02
Can starring in a crap sitcom actually cause Parkinson’s disease? We can only hope.

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Date
20020408

Time
14:02
I’m only blogging this Which Monkee Are You? quiz because I turned out to be the coolest musician of all time – Michael Nesmith.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020408
Queen Mum Latest
Time
14:30
This picture of a special gift left by a mourner is doing the rounds. Yes, it’s obvious – but still funny.

Right?

Right?

(I’ll just get me coat, then…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020408

Time
14:56
Overture are suing Google for nicking their ‘paid listings’ advertising model. What, just Google?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020408

Time
15:26
Hoorah! We have something else to wait for now that the Charlotte Church Countdown is over.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Overlord (of the Evil variety)
Time
09:42
The secret to becoming an Evil Overlord and not letting secret agents, angry loners or meddling kids fuck it up for you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Old Computer Programs
Time
09:44
Sometimes new isn’t always improved – that’s why oldversion.com archives a collection of the original (and some obviously think best) versions of popular computer programs.

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Date
20020409
Oligarchical Collectivism
Time
09:47
You can read all about it here (there’s also some other stuff involving a guy called Winston and fittingly enough, a character named O’Brien). The whole thing was written by a chap named Orwell.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
The Occult
Time
09:48
The Occultopedia has more information than you can shake a handful of chicken guts at.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Open Directory Project
Time
09:50
The number (and quality) of editors has slipped lately. Do yourself and the web community a favour by joining up today.

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Date
20020409
Sem-O-phore
Time
09:55
This is the semaphore signal for the letter ‘O’. Just thought you might like to know. There’s a bunch of other letters we really don’t care about here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Organs
Time
10:01
Sure, you could become an organ donor, but not everybody thinks it’s a good idea. Hell, you can even get an Organ Keeper Card if you want one. Still, if you don’t mind being carved up like so much meat, you might choose to leave your body to science – but wouldn’t it be far, far cooler to leave your body to art? That way, your friends and family could come and see you (and all of your lovely internal organs) in the local art gallery whenever they pleased.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Oh, the Humanity!
Time
10:04
Enjoy the worst movies on earth at ohthehumanity.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
O!
Time
10:05
See the letter ‘O’ (and a bunch of other far less interesting letters) as displayed by Mrs. Stubb’s Kindergarten class for their truly awesome Millennium Alphabet Project.

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Date
20020409
Ouch!
Time
10:08
Meet Ouchy The Clown, ‘your premier provider of adult clown services’. And before you ask – no, he doesn’t do children’s parties.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020409
Orgasms
Time
10:17
The difference between the male and female variety.

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Date
20020409
Oscar The Grouch
Time
10:19
Oscar is on display at the Smithsonian Institute, which explains why he only pops up occasionally on Sesame Street.

(Hey, I had to slip a Sesame Street reference in somewhere!)

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Date
20020409

Time
15:37
Here I am in Oxford. I just saw a truck fall over on its side. Right in front of me. It doesn’t start with the letter ‘O’, but it did scare the fuck out of me, so I hope you don’t mind if I include it.

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Date
20020410

Time
09:30
A few people have emailed me with questions about yesterday’s overturned truck incident. Here are the answers:

Is the driver OK?

As they say in the stunt biz…Yes, he’s OK folks!

Are you OK?

I’m fine, thanks for asking – but I did have a shaky start to my meeting.

It didn’t start with ‘O’!

Well, yes, it did. Aside from the obvious use of the word ‘overturned’, what I neglected to mention was what I was saying as I desperately steered around the bloody thing:

Oshitofuckochristoshitofuckomygodoshit!”

What the hell happened?

I was a few hundred yards from the office I was headed to when the articulated lorry on the roundabout ahead of me turned into an exit road and tipped over. He wasn’t going too fast, so maybe an uneven load had something to do with it. I was first ‘on the scene’ as they say (and damn near twisted an ankle getting there). The cabin had fallen over with the rest of the vehicle, passenger side down. I looked up to the driver’s seat, but he wasn’t there. “A-ha”, thinks I, “no seatbelt”. I looked down, but all I could see was debris. Then I saw a foot twitch. The truck wasn’t going too fast when it tipped over, maybe 5 or 6 miles per hour – so basically, the guy had suffered an 8-foot fall to the other side of the cab and the impact caused every glove compartment, map holder and cup holder to empty its content over him.

His foot was against the cracked windscreen, so (and by now there were five of us there, one calling ‘999’) we decided not to break the glass to gain entry. Someone climbed on top of the cab and got in through the driver’s side door. By the time the driver came to, shaken but OK, there was someone right next to him and over a dozen people staring at him through the glass like some kind of exotic fish. And there was he literally swimming in his possessions.

I won’t close with a lecture about road safety, but I will say this:

He’s damn lucky that he stowed his pornography carefully.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410

Time
09:41
Check out Star Wars: Designer Edition. He has a point. If there were a Star Wars movie made in the early 90′s, I’m firmly convinced that every piece of technology would have been beige. If this site does inspire you, then maybe you’d like to start out small by building your own lightsaber. Just be careful, that’s all I ask!

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Date
20020410

Time
09:51
Hmm, why does company called ‘Beige Design‘ have a blue website?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410

Time
09:55
Just when I thought no venture could be bigger or more impressive than the Internet Archive, something came along this morning that Blew. My. Mind. The new site nurseryphotos.com allows you to search a database of over 172 million photos from hospitals all over the western world, some entries dating back as far as 1904.

I didn’t believe it myself, but took the time to do a quick search anyway and yes, my picture was there. Incredible, simply incredible.

You have to try it for yourself.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410

Time
10:25
Some things in life are bad,

They can really make you mad.

Other things just make you swear and curse.

When you’re chewing on life’s gristle,

Don’t grumble, give a whistle!

And this’ll,

Help things turn out for the best…

And…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410
Office Tip #364
Time
12:11
Don’t leave your chewing gum out on the desk, or everybody will ask for a piece.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410

Time
12:21
A cool collection of songs from The Simpsons. I own a couple of Simpsons CDs, so I already know most of these by heart. My personal favourite is I’m Checkin’ In from The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson. Not an episode you’re likely to see for a while, given that most of the action takes place in the World Trade Centre. Khlav Kalesh, anyone?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020410

Time
12:36
You may remember the images of Christ looking over your shoulder from Jesus Week. Here are some slightly altered versions from sortakinda.com that will amuse you.

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Date
20020410

Time
12:50
Somebody just plugged a flash version of the parody of Cat’s In The Cradle over at GoofyFun.com

The song is based mostly on an enduring urban legend and is really quite good – but damn it, I’ve seen this before. Here’s one version and here’s the version I see most often. Until the bloke who actually wrote and perfomed the song stands up to be counted, these (mostly crappy) multiple rip-offs are going to continue. His name, BTW, is Aaron Wilburn – and I suspect that the reason he isn’t making a lot of noise about it is that he’s a nice Christian chap who prefers to turn the other cheek.

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Date
20020410
Photoshopping
Time
13:19
Art or Arse? makes a welcome return for 2002!

My entry is ready, but the email address they give on the site bounces! Scum!

Oh well, I suppose I must suffer for my art and wait until tomorrow to send this in:

Mustard Man

by Manic

Mustard Man is an installation piece formed of fibreglass-reinforced plaster, polyester resin, natural materials and American mustard. The piece is meant to emotively and realistically convey the daily trials of the modern-day proletarian to the upper-class literati.

Click here to see a large version.

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Date
20020411
Flash Games
Time
08:43
A fun game for your average gun-crazed homophobe – go on, get them before they get you!

(Yet another quality link from the notorious breeder @ ultimateinsult.net)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
08:46
Read about the Pizza Hut manager who robbed the bank next door and still got back to work in time to make the garlic bread for the lunchtime rush.

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Date
20020411

Time
08:50
The Brazilians have no sense of humour. Or irony. I heard about this on the radio the other day. Kind of childish and reactionary IMO, especially considering how well countries like Australia and Japan took Exactly. The. Same. Treatment. Also stupid in that The Simpsons makes fun of America Every. Single. Episode.

Anyways, here’s a discussion on the topic that popped up in a search this morning.

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Date
20020411

Time
09:01
Warning: This article is only amusing if you’re a weblogger. Just for the record, I was the first person to see the value in the domain name ‘warblog.com’. Too bad some cybersquatter now has it sitting on his dustpile.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Office Tip #365
Time
09:38
Beware! Stationery isn’t always stationary!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
09:40
Hooray! A deal is being hammered out for ‘Goldmember’. The way is clear for a cool title. Now only the movie itself will suck.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Flash Games
Time
09:52
Kill The Butterfly! Surprisingly difficult, but in the end very satisfying.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Flash Music Videos
Time
10:00
(of the crap variety)

Little Blue Dune Buggy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Flash Games
Time
10:25
Oh boy, this is a cracker – and no, I didn’t go looking for it (see the other shag-and-shoot-em-up earlier in today’s blog). I just tripped over it while trying to find the source of traffic to bloggerheads from some German DJ site (if you’re here from that site, please do let me know where the link is).

Picture the scene: You’re Adam. You run around naked in the Garden of Eden trying to shag Eve (as you do), but for some reason you also have to deal with a chicken and a gorilla. Weird. Compelling. Challenging.

Play The Game!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
10:51
An even better article about the whole Brazil/Simpsons thing.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Corporate Killing
Time
10:55
If you didn’t see Mark Thomas on TV last night, then you really should read this. The ‘New’ Labour government (read: ‘Conservative Lite’) promised to reform the law on Involuntary Manslaughter in October 1997 – and to introduce a new offence of Corporate Killing, to make companies take health and safety issues more seriously. Surprise, surprise – two elections later and this promise still hasn’t been fulfilled.

OK, enough politics – back to the shagging!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
11:11
Britney looks set to appear in the next advert for ‘Chicken Tonight’.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
11:32
You’ll pardon me for not noticing this before (I see large notes so rarely these days), but Mrs Doubtfire appears on the Australian $50 note.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
11:47
Death to all gnomes! Hey, there’s even a flash game on this theme

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
12:06
Do not click here if you are in any way squeamish or currently eating your lunch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
12:21
I was asked a day or so ago who I thought was doing it right on the web. My answer was ‘nobody’. I take it back. Somebody has, for the first time, actually succeeded. And hey, I can even take a little bit of the credit!

Tesco.com turns a profit.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411
Search Engine Optimisation
Time
13:07
My little Lego site just went live in Google’s database and is now enjoying some healthy traffic. I won’t bore you with the Lego-related results (which are relatively easy to achieve), but just look at these generic search results for some of the vehicles featured on the site. Given the site’s complete lack of link popularity (early days) and the sheer number of competing sites that focus on Star Wars and Star Trek, I’m sure you’ll agree that these are some pretty hefty results indeed. Too bad the site doesn’t make any money. Yet…

Imperial Shuttle‘ – Rank: 3

Imperial Star Destroyer‘ – Rank: 6

TIE Interceptor‘ – Rank: 7

Klingon Bird Of Prey‘ – Rank: 3

(Heh – I’m a web geek and a Lego geek. How sad does that make me?)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
13:41
Are you prone to Road Rage?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020411

Time
14:14
The black hole of music. And no, I’m not talking about Pop Idol.

BTW, have you seen the ad for this travesty yet? My Dog, will they stop at nothing?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
09:12
Well, how about that – there’s an animal version of the crash test dummy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
09:26
A collection of blank cassette tapes and (thankfully) empty air sickness bags. I know the second one is an old link, but they kind of go together, don’t you think?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
09:39
The U.S. is the prophesied Fourth Empire! We’re all going to die!

Best leave a note for the loved ones, then. Oh, and one for the milkman.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
09:55
Hey, I like Weird Al too – but there is a line, and this guy crossed it years ago.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
09:58
A woman was convicted Monday of helping her husband impregnate her teen-age daughter with a syringe. You’ll never guess which country this happened in…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
10:09
Damn it, I know I have a pair of 3D glasses somewhere in my desk.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
11:36
This is my weblog.

There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My weblog is my best friend.

It is my life.

I must master it, as I must master my life.

Without me my weblog is useless.

Without my weblog, I am useless.

Heh – can you guess what movie I watched last night?

In case you’re from another planet, or have dismissed this film as ‘just another war movie’, you can read the summary here or ruin the movie before you see it by reading the entire script here.

Those of you who do know what I’m talking about might enjoy this Sgt. Hartman soundboard, or a visit to Gunnery SGT. R. Lee Ermey’s official site.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
12:27
Wow, that caught me by surprise first time around. Google has a new feature that automatically refreshes your search if you (1) spell one or two words incorrectly and (2) that ‘incorrect’ search produces no results. Reliance on this can only add to my web-induced dyslexia, but what the hey.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412
Flash Games
Time
12:31
Are you a happy God or a vengeful God? Hmm. Only mildly amusing, primarily due to a lack of sound.

Playing with the world’s biggest magnifying glass is much more fun.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
14:34
Make your own Mr Man (you’ll need your speakers turned on to hear the instructions). Then, while you’re in the mood, go and learn your A-B-C’s.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
16:29
WARNING! If you laugh at this, you’ll go straight to hell.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
16:40
Get a free sample of dehydrated water.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020412

Time
16:41
Alexander the Great had conquered almost the entire known world by the time he was my age. See what a waste you’ve made of your life by entering your age here and compare your accomplishments with folks who obviously have better things to do than visit my dumb weblog every day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
09:14
As part of the Bush Administration’s ongoing efforts to obliterate all traces of terrorism in the United States, the Department of Justice has commenced registration of each and every American Patriot.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
09:19
You know, the increasing activity by amateur/weekend spammers is really starting to get on my tits. In case you’ve missed past comments about this issue, the current economic climate is driving more and more people to try one spam scheme or another ‘just the once’. This has not only led to a general upswell of spam (typically delivered over the weekend) but also an increase in the number of spammers who simply ‘CC’ everybody on their paid-for list, exposing these addresses to yet more abuse (because everybody who receives the spam subsequently gets to see a big chunk of the list the spammer paid for). Also, being amateurs, they more often than not organise these addresses in their Outlook Express Address Book – resulting in many, many viruses being delivered via this notorious security hole, courtesy of this new generation of spammers. Collectively, they stand to do a lot more damage in the very near future because of this. The wankers.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
09:44
A gallery of really bad greeting cards.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
09:49
Just because you love trees, it doesn’t mean that the trees love you!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
09:55
An entire Photoshop comp has bitten the dust. Why? Because the Henson Group stamped their little feet. Surely these works are protected under fair use?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
10:15
It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

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Date
20020415

Time
10:25
Woo! Yay! My book must have sold well over the weekend. Just look at that sales rating – 572! If I sell just a couple more today, then I zip up to the top 100 and usually sell a couple of dozen more as a result (because I make the ‘top titles’ list for the business category if I rank above 120 or thereabouts). If you’ve ever thought about buying this book – please buy it today!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
11:46
Steve Huey was suffering from an inoperable and fatal brain tumor. Doctors had given him only two months to live, so he decided to end it all by shooting himself in the head. The chances of him not only surviving this, but miraculously shooting out his brain tumor in the process were 254 million to one.

I’m sure you can guess what happened, though

(Cheers to Rogi for the link.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
11:57
Do you think the pop music industry is at its lowest ebb ever? Think again.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
12:40
Queen Mum, We Love You. Sweet. Touching. Evil.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
14:47
Here’s the site of someone who does every lame quiz they come across. Hosted at Geocities, of course…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
15:03
Jakob Nielsen is thinking of the children.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
15:05
You know those X-10 wireless mini-camera ads that have been popping up everywhere? The signal these cameras send out can be intercepted from more than a quarter-mile away by anyone with the right kit and a little know-how. There’s no law to stop such snoops from doing so, either.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
15:11
WARNING! This link doesn’t work for everybody.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
15:14
There are only 10 types of people in the world – those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
15:19
Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020415

Time
16:57
Uh-oh. A good thing the web has so many dating sites, then.

Tommy Hilfiger vs. Timmy Smellfinger

It’s no secret that I run more than one site. I happen to be quite involved in Search Engine Optimisation amongst other things, and one thing I do as part of this is run experimental sites to test methods and techniques.

One such site is smellfinger.com

In commercial terms it doesn’t serve much of a purpose beyond its largely academic use as a research tool. Mind you, I nearly always cater such sites to my interests to make the work more appealing.

In this case, the interest is focused on my objection to the commercial and marketing methods of Tommy Hilfiger.

Elitist. Racist. Both words could be used to describe the marketing approach of this label and many others, but in this particular case a decision was made to parody Tommy Hilfiger’s ridiculous advertising and the hedonistic standards that they promote.

I felt that this statement simply wouldn’t have been strong enough unless you were actually able to buy the clothes. Sadly, you can no longer do so through the Smellfinger site as the third party store (CafePress) has suspended my account after receiving notification from representatives of Tommy Hilfiger that the store ‘allegedly contains material which infringes upon her/his copyright rights’.

Oh, really?

First, let’s start with a direct comparison of the two logos:

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the colours are different. The second is that the words are different. Those with poor vision who can’t read English might not be able to tell the difference, but this combined condition normally only exists within the populace of impoverished third world nations, and we all know that clothing labels like Tommy Hilfiger have no involvement or interest in such places.

Perhaps the people at Tommy Hilfiger think that they hold the copyright of the colours red, white and blue. This being the case, I would like to present some other examples of copyright infringement that they may wish to pursue:

OK, forgetting the colours for a moment, let’s get back to those words and what they represent, shall we?

‘Timmy Smellfinger’; what does this mean? It means that my name is Tim and I think that a certain company stinks. To be more precise, I think that it has blood on its hands. That’s just my opinion, mind you – but one that I have a right to voice, particularly in terms of parody when it comes to fair use. My right to express this in such a way is protected by the Copyright Act of 1976, which clearly states that:

“[I]n order to constitute the type of parody eligible for fair use protection, parody must do more than merely achieve comic effect. It must also make some critical comment or statement about the original work which reflects the original perspective of the parodist–thereby giving the parody social value beyond its entertainment function.”

Let’s look at that logo again:

There’s my name, there’s my statement, and yes, there’s the clear representation of blood on the hands.

As Tommy Hilfiger’s representatives have not contacted me about the removal of the site itself, I might assume one of two things:
- They’re using an easy-to-bully commercial enterprise to enforce a small measure of censorship.
- They are fully aware of my rights under ‘fair use’, so can do nothing about the site, but are of the opinion that, when seen out of context (i.e. on a t-shirt, away from the site) that the Smellfinger logo no longer qualifies as a statement or parody in a legal sense.

If the latter is the case, then I can only say “rubbish”.

It should be perfectly clear that a shirt adorned with the Smellfinger logo is not a Tommy Hilfiger logo, but rather an anti-Hilfiger statement. If anybody is in any doubt about it or requires more information, a URL appears on each item of clothing.

I’m in two minds as to what I should do about this. Sending a counter notice to have my CafePress store reactivated involves all sorts of headaches that I could do without.

Some would argue that I should be happy that I’ve got their attention, and that if the CafePress suspension was their best shot, then I should be happy with it as a result.

UPDATE – Within a month or two, this article was getting better search results and far more traffic than the actual site it was about (probably because Hilfiger’s actions and my published response provided far more useful information than the considerably gentle parody at smellfinger.com) so when the time came around the renew the domain, I simply let the site pass away into the ether.

18-30 March, 2002

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
09:08
A bunch of cops were sitting around celebrating a divorce (as you do) when it was decided that some hardcore pornography might liven proceedings up. Of course, women have no place when it comes to pornography, so they decided to get rid of the one female officer who was present by making a phony ’911′ call. The highly original fake name they used was ‘Jane Johnson’. (Sorry, that last bit is only funny to me.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
09:15
This will keep you busy for a while… The Museum of Hoaxes.

They even have my personal favourite, the BBC’s Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.

I found it interesting that hoaxes are grouped in 50 year brackets, but the period 1999-2001 requires an entire category to itself. Is this what we’re going to be remembered for?

(Yet another quality link from ultimateinsult.net)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318
Mustard Man
Time
09:25
DAY FOUR (and a bit)

Still no joy on the muchmusic front. I may hassle them with a fax today when the boss isn’t looking.

I found this gentlemen in Usenet who uses the name ‘Mustard Man’ for trolling purposes, but it really is no substitute for the real thing.

Don’t worry, we will find Mustard Man. It’s only a matter of time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
09:55
Deep in the archives of the BurningBird I found this, a short but very sweet collection of shaggy dog stories:

Shaggy Dog Stories 1

Shaggy Dog Stories 2

Shaggy Dog Stories 3

Here’s one extra from me to complete the list:

A Collection of SDS Puns

Of course, not all Shaggy Dog stories end in puns. Some of best just, well, end. My personal favourite here is the saga of Father Bear and Baby Bear, but now is not the time to tell it. I need a few drinks in me first, and it’s nowhere near midday yet.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
10:42
B3TA goes begging.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
11:44
At long last, Michael Jackson is going home.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318
Photoshopping
Time
13:49
Yet more attention for us Photoshopping geeks. I wish they’d stop, it only encourages us…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
14:07
Oh, dear God!

Could this really be the site of the web design company run by James Major?

The whois lookup checks out and there is an Emma Noble gallery stashed in the back, but surely this has to be a joke. Please tell me that it’s a joke…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
14:24
What did you get your Mum for Mother’s Day?

Was it anything as nice as this?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020318

Time
15:03
Woman dates man. Finds out what he was really like via his weblog.

Not really fair, though. I mean, we’re all like that.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
09:35
Behold the Sock Jedi.

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Date
20020319
Another Lame Quiz
Time
09:35
Which HTML Tag Are You?

<tag>I’m it.</tag>

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Date
20020319

Time
09:44
Oh, goody – a new weblog directory to play with.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
09:48
Remember yesterday’s story about a guy who dated a woman smart enough to look him up in Google? I found him (and so have a few other people by the looks of things). It wasn’t quite as simple as searching ‘Joel’ ‘handjob’ ‘Library Girl’, but it was pretty easy. Personally, I think the journalist should have shown more care. The offending diary entry is here, BTW. Drop by and say hello if you like, but be nice. This kind of shaming can’t be easy to live with.

(If you’re reading this article in the bloggerheads archive, then this might be a better link for you.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319
Mustard Man
Time
10:00
DAY FIVE

Still no joy on the muchmusic front. If they take more than a week to answer their email, I’m seriously considering sending an envelope stuffed with talcum powder, just to keep them on their toes.

For those of you who are sick of looking at the same picture every day (here’s a large version if you missed it) I’ve knocked together this rather obvious Photoshop of our hero. Enjoy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
10:26
Mysterious Giant Fish Washes Up on Beach. Yes, there’s even a picture. I could tell you where I’ve seen weirder, but it involves an overly long cautionary tale about smoking pot before snorkelling and why it’s generally a pretty bad idea.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
10:57
This is cool. Somebody thinks my book makes a good promotional giveaway.

Whatever shifts them is fine with me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
13:13
The original author of ‘If The World Were a Village’ is Donella H. Meadows. Just thought you should know.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319
Photoshopping
Time
13:23
A good Photoshop competition over at fark.com today.

You can see a larger version of my entry by clicking here.

The rest of the entries are over at fark.

You know who to vote for – get to it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319
Flash Games
Time
13:44
Pegball is the mutt’s nuts. Kind of slow at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’re away.

Also, check out this great collection from the flash team over at spikything.com (‘kick-ups’ was the game that first got my attention, but you really must try ‘mutant snowmen’, it’s a great shoot-em-up).

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, the now-classic Spaced Penguin has a new home. Have fun.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020319

Time
13:53
Watch out, bloggers and bloggettes – we’ve been rumbled.

Prepare yourselves for the invasion of the mainstream.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
09:06
Amuse yourself with the subtle differnce between www.tourettes.com and www.tourettes.co.uk.

(As noticed by a B3ta boarder – go there and give today.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
09:08
Who could possibly deserve it more? Browse a collection of defaced Britney Spears posters.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320
Mustard Man
Time
09:19
DAY SIX

Damn it, I’ve just checked my email and there’s still no reply from muchmusic about the origins of Mustard Man. Someone did react to yesterday’s photoshop, however, and noticed that Mustard Man looks a little bit like Johnny Vegas.

So, here and now for your viewing pleasure, we proudly present an image with which to illustrate this rather pointless point.

More on Mustard man tomorrow. (As usual, we close with a link to a large picture of Mustard Man for those who came in late.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
12:16
This london estate agent needs my help. It’s SEO man to the rescue!

(insert ‘whooshing’ sound here…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
12:28
I’m a notorious keyboard basher from way back. Maybe a virtual keyboard is the solution. Or maybe not. Knowing me, all I’d end up with is bruised fingers and a dented desk surface.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
12:34
Making entertainment out of misery. Tune into spamradio.com today to hear speech generation technology going to waste in the most amazing and strangely satisfying way possible.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020320

Time
12:48
Looking into my magic mirror, I notice lots of people dropping by today on the lookout for Joel of ‘handjob’ and ‘library girl’ fame/shame/etc. He’s over here and the offending diary entry is here. Be nice.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
09:28
Web users are stubbornly sticking to the culture of free according to this article.

*sigh*

This is going to get worse before it gets better.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
09:31
Cook up some popcorn and get ready to throw it at your television set – here’s a collection of videos showing every Eurovision entry since 1957 in Realplayer file or stream format. Can somebody tell me why this is necessary?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
09:38
And you thought spamradio was the ultimate in soullessness? Now we’ve got singing and dancing robots! I smell a novelty Christmas single in four-part harmony, I does.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
09:47
A very cool site about doctors. It’s all true, I tells ya!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321
Mustard Man
Time
10:35
DAY SEVEN

Ahahahahahahahahaha! I love this. The wonderful and talented Frank Gumola has been following the Mustard Man story, and informs us of the latest sighting, this time in the all-new N*SYNC lineup.

After 3 emails to 3 different departments, there’s still no reply from muchmusic, so no hyperlink for them today.

Feel free to send your own Mustard Man sighting in. We have to have something to do while we wait for the jobs-worths at muchmusic to get their ship together.

(As usual, we close with a link to a large picture of Mustard Man for those who came in late.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
11:20
Today’s juicy conspiracy theory: those naughty NASA nobbins have been editing UFOs out of their footage.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
11:25
Play Spot Simon Fuller with Popbitch. Download the image of his school photo circa 1978, spot the young version of Pop Idol’s Mr Nasty and win!

[UPDATE – It’s already in the bag, sorry folks. Those trousers were a dead giveaway…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
12:55
Geremino T. Ranallo, 65 and Warren G. Jacoby, 50, were convicted on a charge of disorderly conduct and fined $502 for spraying fart spray in a supermarket. Afterward, Ranallo said the judge’s decision angered him.

“I don’t want to be known as the fart guy,” he said.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
15:12
I spent most of my day neck-deep in HTML, but at least I had time to manage this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020321

Time
16:19
Damn it all to hell, they cut the red-hot lesbian love scene from the new Scooby Doo movie. There’s no reason to go and see it now…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
10:47
Good morning, everyone! Sorry I’m late – I received a very interesting email last night concerning one of my sites and subsequently spent most of this morning writing an article about it. Enjoy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
10:50
Not surprisingly, I’m in a bit of cantankerous mood this morning, so this link from the Ultimate Insult suits me right down to the ground. Join Operation Clambake and take a stand against the Church of Scientology.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
10:54
I detect a bit of a theme developing today. The guy who’s been charging spammers with a $25 ‘reading fee’ just had a win in court. Hooray for him!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
11:25
Burglar breaks into home and steals a 9-year-old’s tooth fairy money.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322
Mustard Man
Time
11:31
DAY EIGHT

Today’s Mustard Man sighting comes courtesy of the excellent farker Skratch, who spotted our hero preparing to cater to the rich and famous.

No, muchmusic still haven’t replied to my many emails, so I’m left here looking like a total dope until they do.

Oh well, things could be worse. I could be grossly overweight and work in a fast food restaurant for one…

(As usual, we close with a link to a large picture of Mustard Man for those who came in late. Do feel free to send in your own sightings.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
12:18
Rogi deserves a little reciprocal link love, so he does. He runs a tidy weblog, our Rogi. Go check it out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
12:38
Buy a non-toxic, non-smelly dirty diaper for those moments in life when a tasteless practical joke is the only viable course of action. You may also wish to round off your online retail therapy session with the purchase of the world’s most straightforward toilet paper.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
12:51
Cool. Even more toilet paper.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
13:03
Load and loads of flashing Bush.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
13:08
The new picture editor at the BBC news site is a closet Photoshopper. You heard it here first.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
13:48
RE: that article you probably haven’t read yet:

Hmm, it seems urban75 has had to deal with similar stupidity in the past.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322
Google Sell-Out Leads To Downhill Slide
Time
15:35
I’ve always been a big fan of Google, but I must admit to getting an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach every time they introduce yet another sponsorship or paid placement model.

Take this example, erm, for example.

The search query is ‘child safe chat rooms’. Just take a look at the ad that appears (click the former link to see the live result if you like, but it doesn’t appear in all countries, so you may instead wish to click here for a screengrab of it).

‘Sexy chat and webcam rooms’? WTF is with that? I’m disappointed to say the least.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
16:04
I’ve just found a handy little tool that makes a visit to tourettes.com much more entertaining.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
16:15
British Library discovers it is sitting on a powder keg. Literally.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
16:18
OK, so sexy chat rooms aren’t all bad, but all the same….

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020322

Time
17:15
There are more Scientolgists than there are Rastafarians. What a sad world we live in.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020325
.com vs .co.uk
Time
09:12
The inimitable Neil T would like to bring the following contrast to your attention:

www.supertramp.com

www.supertramp.co.uk

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020325

Time
09:25
Management at AOL tried to encourage its 82,000 employees to use AOL e-mail. The response was less than enthusiastic.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020325

Time
09:28
Normally it would be easy for you to get that ‘drugged-up and couldn’t give damn rock-star’ feeling by browsing through some images of very expensive car wrecks. Sadly, none appear to have been driven into swimming pools (or thrown out of hotel windows). Most disappointing, however, is the webmaster’s assumption that you’ll be willing to pay $5 to view the site. Yet another symptom of the Big Change. It’s coming your way, children. Prepare yourselves.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020325

Time
10:07
Amuse yourself briefly with the Homer Simpson soundboard.

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Date
20020325

Time
11:19
Search this US Driver’s License Database.

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Date
20020325
Mustard Man
Time
13:26
DAY NINE (and a bit)

Today’s Mustard Man sighting comes from Godzilla, yet another excellent farker and well-known MM fan.

Will there be another sighting tomorrow? Will muchmusic ever get back to me regarding the origins of Mustard Man? Only time will tell.

(As usual, we close with a link to a large picture of Mustard Man for those who came in late. Do feel free to send in your own sightings.)

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Date
20020325

Time
14:26
A great collection of Spaceman Spiff games and comics (if you have to ask, you don’t deserve to know).

This link arrived at what is hopefully the end of a totally spiffed-out day at Fark.com (again, if you have to ask…)

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Date
20020325

Time
15:21
A weblog that watches Google.

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Date
20020325

Time
15:33
I lost some parts watching Lego Troopers.

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Date
20020325

Time
15:42
I remember once upon a time, when I wanted to make the FAQ for uk.local.london as (ahem) ‘useful’ as possible, I ran it through AltaVista’s Babelfish into French, then German, then back into English to get that authentic ‘Frangalis’ touch. If only the Multibabel facility had existed back then. I could have saved myself an entire 20 minutes on this pointless exercise. Go check it out. Play Chinese Whispers with yourself. It’s perfectly harmless, and you won’t go blind, I promise.

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Date
20020325
Advance Warning: Light Bloggage Ahead
Time
16:51
I’m off to north Woop Woop for one of those tedious meeting things for almost all of tomorrow, and even though I hope to be back for a big’un on Wednesday, be aware that Jesus Weekend starts on Friday (and I may even take off a day early if I’m in the mood to do so). You have been warned.

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Date
20020326

Time
09:33
I’m off to a meeting that will probably take up most of my day today, but I woke up this morning with the final piece of the puzzle for my upcoming novel (I hear you laughing, you bastards!) and I’m trying to keep my mind off it so I can focus on the task at hand.

So, to get the whole thing out of my system and keep you entertained on this day of light bloggage, I present to you one very short story.

I read all kinds of things, but my favourite genre by far is ‘Golden Age’ Science Fiction. Some of the writing in this period dealt less with space ships & aliens and more with what could best be described as ‘storytelling sleight of hand’ – precluding (and indeed inspiring) television shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, etc. etc. etc.

The true art of this discipline lay in changing the entire aspect of the story with its final sentence. Achieving this with the final word was the ultimate challenge, as was linking this with the title of the story to create a double-whammy of sorts.

The short story To Serve Man by Damon Knight is not only the finest example of this sub-genre, it was also adapted for television by Rod Serling, went on to become the most popular Twilight Zone episode ever, and even had the piss taken out of it in The Simpsons. Two Stars is an open tribute not only to the structure of this SF classic, but also its central device.

Enjoy:

TWO STARS

By Tim Ireland

It was to be mankind’s greatest moment. The aliens had landed only months before and here we were being presented, as promised, with our guide to the universe. Ambassadors, dignitaries and a team of specially prepared translators watched the sky, awaiting the robotic shuttle that would deliver our key to the stars.

As the deadline grew closer, conversations were struck up here and there in an unconscious attempt to relieve tension and allay nerves. Soon an active discussion was underway, focusing primarily on what should be regarded as the highlight of the aliens’ visit.

The French ambassador insisted that the combination of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles was enough to stagger anyone’s senses, and swore that he saw one of the aliens draw a sharp breath at the sight of Mont St Michel.

The representative from Australia snorted, suggesting this may have been due to the stench of low tide at the time. Ignoring looks of death from the French, he then went on to describe at great length the natural wonders found only in Australia, including its unique fauna, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. Mentioning also how taken the visitors were with the beauty of the surrounding islands, he closed by magnanimously declaring the entire South Pacific region to be the most impressive leg of the tour.

An Egyptian delegate babbled on about the wonders of the Sphinx and the Pyramids, only to be shouted down by the Chinese who insisted the Great Wall and Forbidden City were greater in size and beauty. The Indian Prime Minister had tears in his eyes as he related (yet again) the romantic story behind the Taj Mahal, and all the while the Americans interjected with Grand Canyon this and Mount Rushmore that.

It came dangerously close to resembling a brawl when the shuttle finally arrived. An odd hush fell over the gathering as the module opened. The Chief Translator reverently removed the long awaited book and hustled into the conference room with his team in tow.

The arguments had just started afresh when the team emerged from the room barely two minutes after going in. The Chief Translator hushed the crowd with a gesture and held the book aloft.

“Gentlemen, our guide to the universe…” he drew breath as if steeling himself, “…our ‘guide to the universe’ is a tourist brochure.”

“And what’s more” he added, “the little bastards only gave us two stars!”

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Date
20020327

Time
09:15
Is this maybe the one time of the year that someone actually manages to drag you into a church? Why not liven up proceedings by standing up during the service and reading out a few choice excerpts from the The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible?

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Date
20020327

Time
09:18
The British Conservative Catholics were formed ‘to counter the many sinister forces that are pitted against us, especially the Atheist Movement and the agents of Satan’. Drop by and say hello.

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Date
20020327

Time
09:22
A chap named Lucas Patrick walked into his local police headquarters last Wednesday and announced he was Jesus Christ. He then led officers to 16 bags of crack cocaine in his vehicle and told them they’d earn “salvation” by arresting him on drug charges.

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Date
20020327

Time
09:43
An oldie but a goodie – Inspirational Sport Statues.

Jesus wants me for his sports team.

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Date
20020327

Time
10:17
Black Jesus Picture Collection. Ridiculous. Everybody knows that Jesus was Anglo-Saxon.

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Date
20020327

Time
10:41
“During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I was riding the pogostick.” Heh. Cute, but only momentarily distracting. OK, here’s one that’ll keep you busy for a while. Check out jesusoftheweek.com!

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Date
20020327

Time
10:46
Now you really can get a hole lot more out of life.

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Date
20020327

Time
11:42
Become an ordained minister in less than 3 minutes and start your own ministry or church of any faith or religion. I did this a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back since. Chicks dig the uniform, y’see…

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Date
20020327

Time
11:45
shoesofthefisherman.com offers sandals that imprint the words ‘Jesus Loves You’ into the sand as you stroll about on the beach (presumably on the lookout for bikini-clad women in need of salvation). Interesting, BTW, that they feel the need to point out so prominently that the sandals are ‘made in Taiwan in a clean, Christian-owned factory that employs adult Christian workers that are paid a living wage’.

When I saw this site for the first time a couple of years ago, I came up with the brilliant idea of an alternative pair of sandals that imprinted the words; ‘Everyone Else Thinks You’re a C**t’. Unfortunately, my brilliant plan fell through – as sandals with this much text on the soles would only have been available in sizes 18 and above.

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Date
20020327

Time
11:59
These people believe that if Jesus were alive today, he would be a vegetarian. (Hang on, Jesus is alive today, isn’t he?) If that isn’t enough to float your boat, try instead this company that markets food made only from ingredients mentioned in the Bible. The Bible Bar is by far their best product, helping you as it does to (impending pun warning) work, rest and pray.

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Date
20020327

Time
14:11
For over thirty years, Jack Chick has been producing those small Christian comic books that get thrust into your hand by smug, self-satisfied witnessing types. This chap seems to think that it’s a bad thing. Personally, I think it’s great that a porn-obsessed child molester can find salvation within 40 frames. It’s also good to see issues like homosexuality and sexually transmitted disease dealt with in such a balanced and practical way. Who cares if it burns when you pee? You’ve got Jesus!

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Date
20020327

Time
14:59
Adult Christianity has a bunch of stuff stashed throughout the site, and waaaay too many features and benefits to list here (they even have their own versions of Chick tracts. Start with the XXX Bible and work your way down to hell from there. (Oh, there’s more naughty Bible passages here.)

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Date
20020327

Time
15:09
The Bible Gateway allows you to search multiple versions of the Bible in nine different languages. Big deal. The Unbound Bible has 10 English versions, Greek and Hebrew Versions (the original Bible languages), 4 ancient versions and 42 versions in other languages. So there. (Oops, just found another collection of rude bits…)

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Date
20020327
Instant Jesus
Time
15:17
Ask Jesus a question. Go to the Chestnut Cafe and follow the link to ‘Get Jesus Now’. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour with one click, see Him looking over your shoulder, dress Him as you please, see Him wink, or simply pray to the guy and see what happens. If you don’t get what you pray for, you can always buy it with your Jesus Card. Don’t leave church without it!

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Date
20020327

Time
15:31
Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance if a certain body.

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Date
20020327

Time
15:39
divine-interventions.com offer all sorts of (ahem) intimate products that allow you to make a religious statement that would make Linda Blair blush. Choose from the Diving Nun, the Jackhammer Jesus, the Baby Jesus Buttplug and more. Eurgh. Excuse me while I pop off to cleanse myself and confess.

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Date
20020327

Time
15:57
Oh goody, now the Bibleman collection features a special Bibleman Jr. video, so concerned parents can drum the Christian message into kiddies at an even more malleable age. I preferred Willie Aames when he was a notorious teenage breast grabber in movies like Zapped! and Paradise. Hell, even the return of Charles in Charge would be preferable to this disgraceful brainwashing.

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Date
20020327

Time
16:15
Motor Cross 30AD – Christ on a Bike. The title is better that the page, I must admit. This was actually one of the first web pages I built with my own two little hands, and boy does it show. Still, nearly 5 years on it still pulls in the punters. Why change it?

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Date
20020327

Time
16:45
A lot of people are going to view these links over the weekend and wonder where I stand with regards to religion. Well, it’s a highly personal question but I’ll comply just this once.

I think that I can best be described as an eclectic agnostic.

I was born a Presbyterian, attended the Uniting Church, went to a Baptist Sunday School (it was just across the road) and lived in a largely Roman Catholic area when I was a little bit older. Heck, I even scammed a few free wafers while I was in the neighbourhood. I became involved in Christian groups like Interact when I was a teenager, got married in a C of E church and even have a friendly word or two for the local vicar when we pass on the street.

So where did they lose me?

I’m still wondering that myself, but on this day in particular I’m reminded of a certain Sunday School lesson at the aforementioned Baptist church. The same teacher who maintained that men have two less ribs than women was teaching us about Easter. Easter Eggs, she said, were representative of Christ’s tomb, in you open them on Easter Sunday and lo-and-behold they’re empty. Praise Jesus! She then went on to inform us that eggs with Smarties or other such sweets inside were therefore an abomination. I’m not sure how those little solid eggs or milk chocolate bunnies work into this theory, but at the tender age of six I didn’t think to ask. I was too busy trying to look up her dress.

Enjoy the links, and have a good weekend.

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Date
20020330

Time
21:16
Yes she is. No I don’t.

Quote Of The Day

An old lady (who, presumably, had been convinced weeks or months ago to relate a version of her memories of the Queen Mum in the past tense), referring to the blitz visits as follows:

“Oh, she were grand. She condescended to come down and meet us, she did.”

01-15 March, 2002

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Date
20020301

Time
09:28
Yet more joy on the Korean front. While the bulk of the traffic is coming from yesterday’s surprise inclusion in Yahoo, there’s still plenty of link love going on out there.

Cheers to the following M*A*S*H-addicted bloggers:

http://www.captainfez.com/blog/

http://dusavon.blogspot.com/

http://www.neuroti.ca/

http://meany.mine.nu/

There’s also lots of traffic coming from this Danish site. It pleases me to think that somewhere in Denmark, one of those stereotypically blonde, sexy and ‘up for it’ chicks is looking at my crappy quiz and thinking of maybe sleeping with me. It’s highly unlikely, it just pleases me to think about it is all.

We’re still waaaaaaaay down on the blogdex charts, so we have a long way to go yet – if, indeed, we get there at all.

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Date
20020301

Time
09:31
It’s very satisfying to see that there are still ideas out there that can stand alone as text.

Check out If Star Wars was set in Glasgow.

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Date
20020301

Time
10:20
Cool Japanese flash/ad thingy. The only word I understand is ‘Panasonic’, but that’s enough for me.

Hi-ho! Hi-ho!

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Date
20020301

Time
10:24
It’s pretty sloppy work, and they did Spam me (the bastards!), but if you’re into football this might prove to be momentarily distracting.

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Date
20020301

Time
10:46
A creationist is offering a $250,000 reward for scientific proof of evolution.

This won’t win me the money, but it’s something to chew on:

- Time is linked with entropy, i.e. the movement of matter in the universe.

- This movement of matter began with the big bang, or if you’re a creationist, the moment God sneezed.

- The subsequent movement has been decelerating constantly, but in the early stages time was moving veryveryfastindeed.

- This means that God could very well have created the heavens, the earth, and got the whole messy business of creating intelligent life and an environment to support it in 6 days (at least, 6 days according to the scale of time those folks what wrote the bible could relate to).

So, there you go. Creationism can sit side-by-side with Evolutionism. If you’re on the right medication, that is.

There, that’s that problem solved. Now, back to that multiple subscription solution I’ve been working on. Should be a doddle compared to this.

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Date
20020301
Latest Viral Agent
Time
11:42
Cool! Very, very cool!

Create a curse and send it to your friends. This is fan-tas-tic, and not just because it lets you address your target by (spoken) name or use some dangdoodle cusswords to describe them.

Here’s a sample. Check it out.

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Date
20020301

Time
14:25
No. Stop. Think about it. You need money to buy crack. M-o-n-e-y!

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Date
20020304

Time
08:29
This man-morphing thing should distract you for all of 30 seconds. It’s not much, but at least it’s a start.

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Date
20020304

Time
08:31
Tee-hee. I used www.create-a-curse.com to send anonymous curses to a few friends and colleagues on Friday. I’ve only been rumbled the once so far.

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Date
20020304

Time
08:35
Blogs make the news, erm, because they make the news. Read the article – you’ll get the idea.

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Date
20020304
Cops Aren’t Dopes #341
Time
09:03
A policeman detected a dark green substance in his taco “which looked and smelled like marijuana,” and yes, that’s just what it was. A 19-yr-old employee at the taco eatery was subsequently arrested.

Not fair! If this were the movies, the cop would have eaten the taco and been completely unaware that he had consumed a controlled substance. Hilarious antics would then follow, probably to a reggae soundtrack.

I say again; not fair!

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Date
20020304

Time
10:09
Doreen Waddell of Soul II Soul fame was caught shoplifting at Tesco. She ran outside when challenged by staff and was hit by three, count ‘em, three cars and died later in hospital. I’ll drop in a news link as soon as an item appears.

Yep, here you go…

And the same story over at the BBC, where they obviously had trouble sourcing a photo of Ms Waddell. Nice choice. Coincidentally, BBC online is looking for a new picture editor.

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Date
20020304
Geek News
Time
11:05
Tim Burton is rumoured to direct Tron 2.0 – go out and celebrate with a frisbee!

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Date
20020304

Time
12:01
Yet another execise in pointlessness. Sum up your experiences in 2001 in 20 words or less.

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Date
20020304

Time
12:12
One Rev. Harvey Polstom claims that ‘Boy Bands Are Making Our Kids Gay!’

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Date
20020304
Latest Viral Agent
Time
14:48
Viral in more ways than one: supershagland.com

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Date
20020305

Time
09:54
There will be much busy-busy-busy-ness today, and therefore light bloggage. I can, however, offer you the inescapable sadness of The Xanadu Preservation Society.

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Date
20020305

Time
10:36
Behold the history of comic books! Oh, and a fine collection of comic book ads (yes, I used to own some sea-monkeys – they died). Oh, and a collection of Hostess ads, complete with running commentary.

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Date
20020306

Time
09:01
The latest edition of Celebrity Bestiality is out. This month: Jamie Oliver and puns aplenty.

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Date
20020306

Time
15:56
More Jamie Oliver bashing for your viewing pleasure. Pukka!

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Date
20020307

Time
09:06
This excellent article on weblogs and their effect on Google has been followed up with an equally good piece on Googlebombing.

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Date
20020307

Time
09:14
Just what the world needs – a virtual Rubix cube.

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Date
20020307

Time
10:13
This chap likes the colour blue. But not hyperlink-blue, which makes him a bit queer in my book.

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Date
20020307

Time
10:26


From the U.S. Copyright Office FAQ:

How do I protect my sighting of Elvis?

“Copyright law does not protect sightings. However, copyright law will protect your photo (or other depiction) of your sighting of Elvis. Just send it to us with a form VA application and the $30 filing fee. No one can lawfully use your photo of your sighting, although someone else may file his own photo of his sighting. Copyright law protects the original photograph, not the subject of the photograph.”

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Date
20020307

Time
13:03
A dictionary of Britishisms and a guide for those Americans reading Harry Potter who may not understand proper English like what is spoken over here.

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Date
20020307

Time
13:13
The human virus scanner. Pure genius. Go there now and find out what brands you’ve been infected with.

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Date
20020307
From the Department of O.O.P.S
Time
13:16
A man charged with sexually assaulting a girl at a church and suspected in two other assaults was mistakenly placed in a cell with a teenage girl, erm, whom he sexually assaulted.

Authorities have described the incident as ‘unfortunate’.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020307

Time
13:21
William Shatner is tring to ‘do a Wheaton‘.

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Date
20020308

Time
08:56
Eleven U.S. students have been suspended for purposely making themselves pass out as part of a fad. Big deal. There was a bunch of guys at my school who had some kind of weird vomiting club going on. One of the sickest things they did was dare someone in their group to eat a packet of Fruit Tingles, throw them up onto a paper plate and then (gulp) eat them again. He did it. In front of a hude audience in the playground. For about 20 dollars (if memory serves). Considering the growing popularity of shows like Jackass it could be said that they were truly men ahead of their time. Anyways, their ability to throw up ‘at command’ improved to a level where they could easily get out of assemblies, exams and the like just with a couple of well-placed fingers. Passing out? Hah! What a bunch of pussies….

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Date
20020308

Time
09:12
Meet Sandy Allen, the world’s tallest living woman. Are all tall chicks this sexy?

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Date
20020308

Time
09:15
A juicy consipiracy theory to punctuate your day and challenge your perceptions. Take a close look at the photos. I saw the ghost of Elvis.

He must have been driving the truck.

(As usual, one of the better links of the day comes from the Ultimate Insult.)

[UPDATE – On the very day the above link gets widespread coverage on the web, some previously unreleased images of the moment of impact mysteriously appear. A staggering co-inky-dink…]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020308

Time
14:25
$cientology Vs. The Weekly World News – is there a difference and can you detect it?

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Date
20020308

Time
14:39
Bored? Why not take a few minutes to shave your testicles? If you’re in the office right now, please do try to exercise discretion – and clean up those curlies when you’re finished!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020308

Time
15:05
I love a good mystery, I does.

Who is this woman, what is her picture doing buried deep in the annals of the website for this Baptist Church and why, I’m wondering, is the plastic wrap necessary?

I need sleep.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
09:12
An oldie but a goodie, and worth blogging because the creator of this excellent distraction classifies his online work as ‘art’. Maybe I can do the same and get ten grand a pop for all the crap I’ve created over the years.

Anyway, here it is – The Simulator.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
09:16
In a rotten mood this Monday morning? Use the wonders of modern technology to kill everyone (or do it the old-fashioned way just like those wonderful merkins are planning).

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Date
20020311

Time
10:06
Things move pretty fast in the new, improved ‘cut and paste’ pop industry. Throughout Pop Idol, a thousand careers are conceived and aborted before our very eyes. The ‘lone’ survivor is launched two weeks after the close of the competition with posters all over London assuring us that ‘The Wait Is Over’. Now the fledgling star is outed less than a month into his career (by my estimation, at least two years ahead of schedule). In the coming week, we should expect Will to get fat and suffer from drug abuse. A comeback will then follow, probably sometime next Thursday after lunch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
11:29
The Rubberband Machine Gun is for wimps. Real men aspire to ownership of a Lego Machine Gun. You have to be able to take it apart and put it back together again in 60 seconds, too. While blindfolded. And under fire. Then you have to give your Lego Machine Gun a girl’s name. Etc.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
11:59
Nude photography by Leonard Nimoy. That’s ‘by’, not ‘of’.

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Date
20020311

Time
13:29
Remember in Electric Dreams where the guy spills champagne on the computer and it magically starts expressing thoughts and emotions? Check out the digital camera that’s come over all arty after being dropped in a pond. Some very cool images here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
14:37
Make your own mutant fish.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020311

Time
16:44
Some wacko, far from pleased with the quality of widescreen television, took hostages in the wrong building, made them put signs in the windows (presumably so the people he actually had a beef with got the message) and then shot himself. Last report, he was still alive and kicking. And an idiot.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:35
I’ve just been described as ‘L33t’. I had to look it up. There’s irony for you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:36
I bet young boys still look under her dress.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:38
Robbie Rist, aka ‘Cousin Oliver’, the boy who killed the Bradys, is doing the Johnny Bravo thang. Rock on, Robbie.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:46
A Texas school cancelled the performance of an anti-violence play after fighting broke out amongst students who were watching it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:52
Learn Oirish Slang instantly! Send no money (we’ll bill you).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:54
Google kicks ass. Well, duh!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
08:56
Too much online love can kill you. Or at least mess you up a whole lot.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312
Photoshopping
Time
09:03
Yet more mainstream attention for the world’s greatest interactive art form. It even makes case for fair use, which is interesting given the focus of my main meeting for today. Oh shit, I’m late! See you soon, kids.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
12:09
Who’da thunk it? Jimmy Carter was a sex monster. Film at eleven.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
14:50
Prince Philip is a twat. And a face-changing alien.

BTW, the Queen likes it: doggie -style.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
15:58
Meet andrew-washington.com

He’s 33, single, and has just recently moved to Kent.

He also has a ‘three-day goatee’ (negotiable). Go get him, girls!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312
Not Safe For Work
Time
16:03
The loveable cynics over at Fark have only now discovered the wonders of Kelly Brook.

Who am I to discourage them?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020312

Time
16:10
Jesus seeped!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
08:58
A cyber-enhanced Jesus. Not recommended for the dashboard of your car.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
09:00
Interrogation by torture would never happen in America – primarily because the US has been secretly sending prisoners suspected of al-Qaida connections to countries where torture during interrogation is legal. Nice one.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
09:03
Yahoo are hungry. And desperate, by the looks of things.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
09:05
Win a lunch date with David Lynch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
09:09
Boy, these spammers never miss a trick. I’ve just been sent an email offering ‘OLYMPIC GAMES RAPE!!!’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
13:27
Ho-hum, it’s been done.

Spot what’s wrong with this picture, but only if you’ve been hiding under a rock on Mars since last year.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
13:29
Find Rob and win big prizes. Teehee. We like Rob, and we love bacon. We’re up for it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
13:54
Almost a week later, the BBC reports on Googlebombs. Overpaid tossers.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
14:26
Found: the girl who talks with her eyes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
14:45
Ho-hum. I had an idea for a cool quiz last night, but it’s already been done.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
16:08
The web has a new hero!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mustard Man.

The worst possible moment on the worst possible day in a career going nowhere… and somebody caught it on camera.

Great things await Mustard Man. His fame will spread far and wide from this moment on. Due to his newfound celebrity, he will be rescued from the hell of the fast food kitchen and instead thrust into the heavens as a shining cautionary example to us all.

Dog bless you, Mustard Man! We salute you and the bravery with which you have faced your daily trials. Yours is a life so illustrative of the human condition that you deserve the immortality of fame like no other.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020313

Time
16:31
Rat-bread. Yummy!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020314

Time
09:09
I walked past a bunch of kids playing football on my way home last night. One of the first things I noticed was a tiny 7-year-old in goal. The goal mouth was absolutely cavernous compared to this poor little titch. He was covered in mud and muck, and had a big scrape on his face. He’d obviously been through hell defending the thing. It started to rain heavily, and someone shouted “OK, next goal wins!”

Within seconds, the ball went sailing through the air and right past the little goalkeeper. I half-expected him to burst into tears, but instead he screamed out at the top of his lungs:

“Where was the fucking de-fence?!?”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020314

Time
09:17
Mmmmm, Vegemite.

On toast, the greatest hangover cure known to man. Set to music, the most uplifting anthem in existence.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020314

Time
09:25
Be patient, this is a busy download this morning.

Listen to the UK’s next No. 1:

Meet The Kilshaws

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Date
20020314

Time
09:47
The quiz thing. It’s out of control. It’s way, way, way out of control.

What Pre-1985 Video Game Character Are You?

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Date
20020314
Mustard Man
Time
10:00
DAY TWO

The gentleman who brought Mustard Man to my attention via Fark isn’t too sure that he’s done a good thing.

All the same, I have been reliably informed that the picture came from an entry to a contest on muchmusic.

I’ll be contacting them today to see if we can track that entrant down. We must find Mustard Man and give his his due!

(Click here to see a bigger picture of Mustard Man)

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Date
20020314

Time
10:59
Lots of cool backwards masking and reversed speech examples, complete with sound files. Use it next time someone brings up the Queen/Dust/Marijuana debate.

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Date
20020314
Spam Of The Week
Time
11:14
Some twit just spammed me, trying to sell a used army helicopter of all things. I’m still trying to get my head around the full implications of this idiocy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020314

Time
12:11
Remember Ivor Biggun?

I remember hearing the Winkers (misprint) album for the first time during a ‘wake-a-thon’ in the very early 80s. Yes, we actually convinced our parents and supervisors that letting us stay awake in the local hall for two days running would be a good fundraising idea. Man, did we get drunk.

We ran out of things to do at about 4am, so we must have listened to this supremely stupid album about a dozen times in all. I still know the entire Winkers Song off by heart.

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Date
20020314

Time
12:26
Yet another Googles, Weblogs, Etc. article. Just if you’re interested.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020314

Time
15:17
George Carlin is trying to out-do Roger Mellie. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then don’t bother with either link, they’re just collections of very rude words.

Oh, while we’re on the subject, the The Online Dictionary of Playground Slang deserves a little link-love.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315

Time
09:16
Awww, diddums. The poor little murderer keeps getting woken up from his sleepy bo-bos.

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Date
20020315

Time
09:36
Y’know, there’s such a thing as being too fond of your car. Oh, won’t somebody pleeeease think of the children?

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Date
20020315

Time
09:39
Check out this very cool flash-based identikit thingy.

This is me. Well, a younger, sexier version of me. If I’m gonna have my image splashed all over the newspapers, I want to look good, dammit!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315

Time
09:47
First it was Pot Noodle with the litigious piss-take (there’s a desc. of it here), and now E4 are getting in on the act.

Not surprisingly, media buyers for the real snake-oil salesmen seems to exercising restraint as a result, which means less of the original ‘you can sue somebody for free’ ads in the short term, so there is that.

BTW, what is it with the Pot Noodle new meedja approach (or lack of it)?

They go to all this trouble, but there’s no indication of the competition at their tediusly w-w-w-wacky website.

Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that another company, Luminar Leisure, already owns notpoodle.com and notpoodle.co.uk – or maybe, just maybe, they don’t know or don’t care about this communications channel at all.

Given that their site has zero (and I mean zero) arming for search engines, I’d guess that it’s a little of both.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315
Mustard Man
Time
10:26
DAY THREE

No reply from muchmusic.com about the possible origins of Mustard Man.

Yet.

But… I did find this woefully underpopulated and somewhat misguided support group in Yahoo and this guy who calls himself Mustard Man, but, despite devoting his life to the condiment, still lacks the punchy pathos of our hero-in-waiting.

Where are you Mustard Man? The world needs you!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315

Time
10:47
Sorry I’m a day late with this news. I normally avoid The Sun because Rupert Murdoch is a (can’t bring myself to say it, sorry).

The chappie who was caught having sex with a goat by a trainload of passengers that stopped alongside his tin-sheeted lovenest denied it all, but was convicted on the strength of physical evidence – goat hairs in the underwear. Always a giveaway. They should make a commercial test kit for it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315

Time
10:57
Sad loner andrew-washington.com has taken his ball and is going home. The site currently carries the message ‘Website removed until further notice due to infestation of juvenile delinquents’ etc. – but, and here’s the scoop, he was over at the B3ta Messageboard last night suggesting that he might set it up as some kind of pay-per-view thing. Good luck, Andrew.

(BTW, if you missed the original site, check out the increasingly useful Web Archive.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020315

Time
12:32
Google continues to evolve. Its latest useful appendage is a news search. Personally, I think I prefer Daypop, because it gives you the news and what folks are saying about it. We’ll see…

Opt-Ins – When ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’

In this age of increasing privacy awareness and regulation, the message is finally starting to filter through to the snake-oil salesmen that they actually need your permission before they send you junk by email. This is why you’ll more often than not see an ‘opt-in’ box adjacent to most forms that require you to enter your email address.

Normally, there are two kinds of opt-in box:
1. The ‘Do you mind if we send you junk?’ box
2. The ‘Do you mind if we sell your email address to other companies so they can send you junk?’ box.

They provide you with this choice so as to comply with data protection laws, but be warned that their main priority is to get as many email addresses as they can (to use or sell as they wish). Because of this, they use a number of tricks to make you opt-in when you have no intention of doing so. My favourites are listed here for your entertainment and awareness.

Opt-In Assurance Scheme 1
The Pre-Approval
A simple technique, this – and one of the most common. The checkboxes are set at active by default. In simple terms, this means that they come ready-ticked for your convenience (in order to secure an unwitting opt-in from the lazy or distracted). You haven’t said ‘yes’, it’s been said for you. An important distinction.

Email :   
Click here if you wish to receive important news and updates from us.
Click here if you wish to receive relevant information from carefully selected partners.

Opt-In Assurance Scheme 2
The Refreshed Default
OK, so you’ve filled out the entire form including your name, address, date of birth, mother’s maiden name etc. etc. etc. and you’ve also carefully unchecked the opt-in boxes. You’re ready to submit, and submit you do – but oh my goodness, one of the fields has been filled in incorrectly. The page refreshes, helpfully reloading the information you’ve entered, highlighting where you have made an error and, most importantly, returning the boxes you have unchecked to their active default. Basically, this means that even if you’d said ‘no’, the page refreshes as if you’d said ‘yes’ to this option. Most people would assume that if all of the other information fields have been reloaded as they set them, then their opt-in selection would also stay the same. Not so. Many will also be distracted by the bright alert text and/or harried by the minor hassle of correcting the form, and will click ‘submit’ without even checking the rest of the page just to get the process over with. Less scrupulous sites will even engineer things so that there is always an error or a reminder of some kind. Sound dishonest? It is. Sound simple? You’d be surprised at how often this one works.

*Please check that your address is correct
Email :    
Click here if you wish to receive important news and updates from us.
Click here if you wish to receive relevant information from carefully selected partners.

Opt-In Assurance Scheme 3
The Double Bluff
A neat trick this one. Again with the active default, but watch out what you’re approving when you uncheck those boxes. The first makes it clear that if you uncheck this box then they will not send you junk by email, but the second says that if you uncheck it, they’re allowed to sell it to someone who will. Not many people would go on to read the second option in full before unchecking it and submitting with gay abandon. Sometimes these options are reversed, but the one you’re meant to check or uncheck to say ‘no thanks’ to is always first, and I’m sure that you can guess why.

Email :   
Click here if you wish to receive important news and updates from us.
Click here if you don’t wish to receive relevant information from carefully selected partners.

Opt-In Assurance Scheme 4
The Stash
Devilishly clever in its simplicity, this last example. Feed the punter the one or two fields they would normally expect, but hide an unexpected opt-in somewhere in the regular fields or about 5 miles below the submit button where they’re unlikely to see it. Hey it’s not their fault you couldn’t be bothered to read the whole page, is it? In my all-time favourite example of this (reproduced in jest below) it was actually hidden in the privacy statement. Now that takes some cheek.

Email :   

Click here if you wish to receive important news and updates from us.
Click here if you wish to receive relevant information from carefully selected partners.

The so-and-so company respects your privacy. To read our privacy policy, etc. etc. What usually follows here is a longwinded privacy statement in small, hard-to-read italics that most people stop reading after the first line, so they don’t get to bit where it says ‘from time to time we share information with relevant parties, well, actually, anyone who pays us really. Please note that we consider ‘relevant parties’ to be completely different to ‘carefully selected partners’, so even if you said ‘no’ to one, you can still say ‘yes’ to the other, so if you don’t want us to sell your email address to Brazilian porn mongers, then you might want to click the following button.
Please note that we’ve barely stopped for a breath to include the radio button, because we really don’t want you to see this. We also haven’t checked the radio button (and made sure that the wording ensures that it staying unchecked means that we can sell any or all of the information we have from you) because a checked radio button is more likely to draw your attention. We don’t want you attention, just your email address. So we can sell it. For more details about or privacy policy, blah blah, blah…

So there you have it. In the marketing world there’s permission, and then there’s ‘permission’. Think about that next time you register for anything online – and look both ways before clicking ‘submit’!

Rant over.

Time To Pay The Paupers

I’ll put this as simply as possible – the Internet is going broke, and it’s your fault.

You may have noticed the symptoms of late. Your favourite site has recently introduced a paid-for ‘premium’ service and/or become a pigsty of increasingly insistent and intrusive advertising. Your preferred search engine now has three types of paid listings ahead of the actual results.

These are businesses becoming visibly desperate for revenue after coming to the uncomfortable realisation that, no matter what their traffic levels, without money they simply can’t pay the bills.

They’re looking to you, but you won’t play ball until it’s too late. Sorry to insult you, but that’s just the way it is. The ‘culture of free’ that exists on the Internet could very well lead to the destruction of a large chunk of it and you have to be made aware of why this will happen and what the full consequences will be.

As long as the ‘culture of free’ exists, most sites will cater to it as best they can, thus the popularity of the ‘premium service’ model. These sites know full well that if they make payment compulsory, the bulk of you will look elsewhere for a similar service.

Enjoy being able to do this while it lasts. This is an interconnected food chain we’re talking about here, and supplies are running low all over. By the time you’ve switched to the free service and it also has been forced to give in to reality, a severe economic toll will have been taken on the service you originally abandoned. It may very well have folded, or forced to change so dramatically that it’s useless to you. Sooner or later you’ll run out of places to go, free or otherwise.

The same goes for content sites. The most useful content databases will be absorbed into the mainstream giants, bought for pennies and sucked dry of any soul or wit. Some content will disappear forever. (Some will admittedly remain in the web archive, but how long do you think free access to this will last in the face of an ever-increasing demand?) The people behind such original content will be unwilling or unable to provide this unique information or entertainment again, and the web will be a poorer place for it. The same goes for the little guy.

Those small pages of obscure information may not be much in themselves, but they form part of a greater database that you take for granted. Small content pages have already begun to drop off the scope as free hosting packages become a thing of the past, or the creator is so bogged down with reality that they just doesn’t have time or resources to maintain it.

Valuable members of online communities will slowly but surely stop contributing as similar concerns weigh them down. Many communities will dissipate as a result, signalling a large downturn in the free exchange of information – and all because you won’t pay a few bucks for service or content that you clearly value.

You happily fork out good money daily for a newspaper, but when presented with a fully searchable archived version of the same newspaper, you expect it to be free. You pay for more television repeats than you could possibly watch, yet when offered unique entertainment via the web you baulk at the idea of a paid subscription.

Where does it end?

It ends, my friend, with the death of the infinite usefulness and unique character of the Internet, which is soon to go the way of the dodo.

To paraphrase Douglas Adams: ‘So long, and thanks for nothing’.

I’m going to ask you for money now. A simple payment of 2 measly cents (the going rate for some sound advice). You can pay me by clicking here. (Note – this link has been removed. The point was made.) But I know you won’t. You want everything for free, and boy, is it going to cost you.

</rant>

To Clarify
If you scan this article and end up on the payment link above, you might assume like many others that this article is about small sites being the Paupers and me begging for small change. It isn’t. The big sites are the paupers, they just don’t want to tell you that because it threatens the strength of their brand. Still, it’s common knowledge that even the big e-tailer Amazon is yet to make a profit. Content and service sites that you value need your support. Now. While they exist and/or you still have a choice as to where the money goes.

Some Comments From People Who’ve Sent Me Two Cents (Or More)
Can I start by asking you to not send me money? That’s not what this article is about. Thanks.
Anyway, here’s what some people said:


It’s the principal of the thing. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and I’m willing to pay my dues. Thanks for the interesting and informative article. AP

Here is your two cents – and the reason the pay-per-view will never fly. It is not convenient. JL

I’m all for subscription services, but part of the unique beauty of the web is knowing that, if the information I found at place A is inadequate, within a couple of clicks I can find it at place B. I don’t want to pay $15/year for sites where I’ll only receive a couple chunks of information. I’m all for paying for the web, but instead of railing on about how we need to quit the culture of free, we need to find a way to make it feasible. RZ

Thanks for the good advice. CW

I’m all for paying for the web, but instead of railing on about how we need to quit the culture of free, we need to find a way to make it feasible. Rob Zazueta

The Internet clearly isn’t sustainable in its current form, and the sooner people start thinking about that problem, the better chance they’ll have of liking the solution. Joshua Bryce Newman

Amen. MH

If you want to read some negative comments, there’s plenty over at the Fark thread.

You can also, if you wish, watch the impending collapse via fuckedcompany.com or theendoffree.com

18-28 February, 2002

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Date
20020218

Time
09:45
Oh great. Now Paypal is evil. Can somebody please invent a good and just private and/or micropayment system before the web has to shut down for lack of funds?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
09:51
I was doing some research for the Universal Church of the Interactive Network to see if we could become an official bonafide religion (can you say ‘Amen’, brother?). Look at this top result in Google I happened across on my first try. Weird. Spooky.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
10:01
The Animal Control Dept. of Denver is fighting a Smurf infestation. Population problems like this, and still nobody knows how they breed? No wonder the world is going to hell.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
11:14
You cannot run, you cannot hide.

The world will end when memes collide.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
11:31
Click here to apply for a job and McDonalds. Heck, they’ll even hire you if you’re an illegal immigrant. Until you complain about working conditions, in which case you’ll be deported.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
11:36
Duck and cover, children. A very funny flash interpretation of the classic civil defence film.

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Date
20020218

Time
11:48
I’m sorry, but I find it amusing that a site offering Russian wives at knock-down prices also has a special on Pocket Translators. So you know what she’s nagging you about, presumably.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
12:04
On sale now at ebay: an ENRON Retirement Coffee Cup, complete with copy of their Code of Ethics.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218

Time
12:34
It’s the latest game to sweep the nation – Stuff The Cat.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020218
Photoshopping
Time
14:26
Time for some farkin’ with Britney Spears in carbonite. How fun is that?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
09:12
Campaign Tip: Never release bad news in the run-up to an election. If you get caught afterwards; deny everything.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
09:18
Critic dares to lambast LOTR – gets mailbombed by thousands of geeks and freaks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
10:25
Let Jesus into your monster truck rally.

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Date
20020219

Time
10:26
bidforsurgery.com – the ‘b’ stands for ‘bargain’.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
10:34
Not getting enough? Generate your own spam.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
11:08
B3ta’s which is better? machine has just been shot down by Google. Just when it was getting interesting…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
14:21
Phew!

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
14:39
Me and the Lord, we have an understanding. How about you?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020219

Time
14:58
Pope John Paul has performed three exorcisms during his 23-year God-representing career. This doesn’t include ordering you, your mate and your esky offa his lawn (obscure Australian joke – sorry…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
10:25
There’s been a lot of response to yesterday’s Pay The Paupers article. Most of the negative stuff was from people who missed the point, so if you haven’t read the article yet, I’d like to make it clear right here and now that it’s not about paying for small sites, and I don’t want your money, so please don’t send any. Thanks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
10:28
Remember the main justification the record labels put forward for shutting down services like Napster? That of the poor starving music artist who got SFA for their efforts? As it turns out, under the new system put forward by those same record labels, erm, the artist gets SFA for their efforts.

Why am I not surprised?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
10:52
Charlotte Church is going to be legal in just over 13 hours, so what do we have to look forward to now that this classic countdown is all but over?

How about this – When Will O.J. Kill Again?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
11:22
Rocklopedia Fakebandica!

Listing every fake band from The Archies to Zack Attack.

Sure, I’ve got nothing better to do…

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Date
20020220

Time
12:30
It’s the end of free email as we know it:

Alta Vista

another.com

and yes, even Hotmail if this is anything to go by.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
14:08
The Brotherhood of Light is expecting intergalactic visitors to do a fly-by of the Winter Olympics. On Thursday. Between noon and 5 p.m.

Set your VCRs.

[UPDATE – More from the site of this same wacko… gasp in awe at the space needle from another dimension.]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
15:04
Check out some classic mugshots of pensioners at The Smoking Gun. No. 14 is by far my favourite.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020220

Time
16:33
Slow porn? Sorry, it’s been done.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020221

Time
09:11
Yanks can complain about Brit journalists all they want. After all, we’re the ones who have to live with them.

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Date
20020221

Time
09:14
Women with dogs. Kinkeeeee.

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Date
20020221

Time
10:11
Those who have complained, quite rightly, that the Pay The Paupers article offers no solutions will be happy to know that a solution is in the offing. Watch this space.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020221

Time
10:28
Yet another (yawn) quiz – Which Sesame Street Character Are You? From what I can tell around the blogs, almost everyone turns out to be Ernie.

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Date
20020221

Time
10:40
Thanks go to Troutgirl for the link whoring. I love you babe, I really do – but try to make it more pointless next time, m’kay?

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Date
20020221

Time
10:51
Pop Idol meets Butlins: surely the very definition of cool…

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Date
20020221
Falling Cat Just Misses Baby
Time
12:01
He even left a cat-shaped hole in the bed – look, see?

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Date
20020221

Time
13:00
George Bush is a man of vision.

No, wait, before you go, see the proof!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020221

Time
13:03
Here’s a variety we haven’t covered yet – camel rage.

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Date
20020221

Time
13:32
The Enron Answering Machine. Sure to be a big one on Blogdex tomorrow.

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Date
20020222

Time
09:15
I’ve been asked to plug a friend’s band, so; plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug, plug.

(Be warned that this is one of those sites that enlarges to take over your whole screen…)

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Date
20020222

Time
09:24
I’m off to some meetings in London today, so I apologise if the commentary and linkage is a little light. Tell you what, let’s have the Random Teen Weblog Generator take up the slack for a while.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020222

Time
09:28
This quiz craze is really starting to get on my tits. I don’t want to link this one, but I feel I must bring it to your attention as a cautionary example if nothing else; What D&D Character Are You?

(I’m somewhere between the lard-arse dungeon master who runs games out of his basement and the skinny kid with mega-acne who Mum has to keep chasing out of the bathroom…)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020222

Time
09:32
Google has always prided itself on being relevant and accurate above all. I’ve always prided myself on the ability to translate a site’s worth to a suitable ranking in Google, but now they’re just letting people throw money at it. This is a symptom of a much larger problem, people, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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Date
20020222

Time
12:49
I’m at my first meeting and currently showing someone how weblogs work. Isn’t life thrilling?

I think I’ll use the opportunity for some common link whoring

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Date
20020225

Time
09:10
Chuck Jones has passed away. No anvils were involved.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020225

Time
09:13
Yet another exercise in futility: make your own nonsense font.

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Date
20020225

Time
09:14
A dynamite link from The Ultimate Insult:

GI Joe – World War II Combat Photographer.

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Date
20020225

Time
13:06
A 19-year-old woman caught shoplifting hair-care products attacked a clerk and fled but left behind her 7-month-old baby. This would have been a better story had the baby led the cops back to her home instead of the ID in her purse, which she also left behind.

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Date
20020225

Time
14:58
Smirnoff Ice. As clear as your conscience.

Erm, and devoid of any Smirnoff (or any kind of vodka, for that matter).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020226
Latest Viral Agent
Time
09:16
Stone the crows, man!

Load up and get ready to fire, those bloody crows are at your marijuana crop again.

Good luck, enjoy your shooting – and watch out for rogue DEA agents!

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Date
20020226

Time
09:20
This quiz thing is waaaaaay out of control:

What Cigarette Brand Are You?

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Date
20020226

Time
15:00
Once again I feel that I must apologise for the light linkage. You see, I’m head-down arse-up working on some boring stuff (and my own lame quiz if I have time).

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Date
20020226

Time
15:02
The top ten cars for gays and lesbians. Yes, they appear to be serious.

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Date
20020226

Time
15:15
It’s weird the things you find with Google’s Image Search. I was looking for a pic of Ned Beatty and found this page dedicated to ‘cute, whale size men’. The Ned Beatty pic result came from a helpful list designed to tell you what movies show your favourite large, fat celebrities naked. The web has something for everybody, I guess.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020226

Time
16:14
A woman in the office just claimed that if you’d endured childbirth, then you could go through anything. I don’t know why I felt it necessary to point out that if you’ve endured childbirth then anything could go through you, but I hope she decides to speak to me again someday.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020226

Time
17:31
OK, it’s live. It might even work: Which M*A*S*H Character Are You?

I’ll be publishing the traffic results sometime soon so you can see what all the fuss is about without having to do a lame quiz of your own.

Cheers all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020227

Time
08:34
Another one of those ‘going to London to meet with Important people’ days today, so yes, linkage will be light. Not that it’s going to count for anything. By the looks of things, the Death Star is currently orbiting Saturn. We’re all doomed!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020227

Time
08:50
Hooray! Someone’s made a flash version of Pitfall! And, just like the original game, it lets you cheat and go left from the start…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020227
Posting Remotely
Time
14:14
Save the dotcoms!

Oh, won’t somebody pleeeeeeeeeease think of the children?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
08:52
I couldn’t get to a terminal when I found out yesterday afternoon, but rest assurred that I was out doing my bit. In fact, here’s what I would have posted had I been able to access the blog at about 8 o’clock last night:

Sho long, Spik, I’ll mish you! (hic)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
08:57
The M*A*S*H Quiz is spreading nicely. As I mentioned before, I’ll make a full report thingy for this after a while to let you know how fast these crappy quizzes spread, but here’s a few bits and bobs to tide you over in the meantime:

First, the bloggage. The quiz was, in the first instance, submitted to:

http://www.b3ta.com/

http://www.ultimateinsult.net/

uk.media.tv.misc

alt.tv.mash

From here, it spread to:

http://www.geekmystique.co.uk/geeklog/

http://www.hoopee.com/myhoopee/

http://www.rymdimperiet.com/

http://rankfish.tripod.com/

http://phuck.blogspot.com/

http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/raasme/blog/blogger.htm

http://filebox.vt.edu/users/cflynn/about.htm

http://www.3bruces.com/

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a surprise inclusion in the Yahoo! directory. Without a submission. After two days of activity. Result!

More later…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
09:22
A great snippet from the popbitch board. Fun on soooo many levels:

Just been talking to the guy who manages the new dancer boy in hearsay

“was it rigged?” I asked. “‘Course it fucking was” he replied, “the contract was signed 3 weeks before the audition shambles took place”

He also went out with ‘Connie2 the AOL girl. When asked why they split up, “Cause she’s a fucking muppet, and a right bunny boiler with it”

Click here to see the message as hosted at popbitch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
10:43
Ooh, I love this one:

Who was Playmate Of The Month when you were born?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
13:58
!tihs fo daol a tahW

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
16:52
I haven’t seen a headline this cool since the orbiting space lasers:

Giant Squid Babies Captured!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020228

Time
16:53
A new sport for the Winter Olympics – Snow Peeing!

(Cheers to the 3bruces for the link.)

Matt Vartan Steals META Tags

(Yes, I was inspired by the success of Bernard Shifman Is A Moron Spammer – who wouldn’t be?)

Last year, I was digging through my search engine results for buymybook and noticed something odd. A site called matcalfox.com was turning up in a lot of the same search results. I didn’t have to dig far to discover that the webmaster, one Matt Vartan, had stolen my META Tags and Page Title wholesale. (Erm, with one minor change. He switched the description from “Books on the Internet by Tim Ireland” to “Books on the Internet by MatCal Fox”…)

As he failed to answer me by email, I brought the issue up on his public guestbook. The exchange is quoted in full below:

[IMPORTANT UPDATE – Following this link to the guestbook is not recommended as it will more than likely crash your computer. Since this page featured on fark.com a large number of people have dropped by the guestbook to wish Matt Vartan well. At last count, it was over 22MB in size, including many unsavoury pictures and what looks to be the complete works of Hans Christian Anderson. There have also been recent reports of a virus implanted in the page. Do not visit this page without full protection.]

Gosh, those META tags at http://www.matcalfox.com/for500y.html look familiar.
Do you mind if I have them back?
Tim Ireland
USA – Thursday, November 08, 2001 at 06:25:38 (PST)

Unless, you have a copy right (sic) on a particular word, tags stays (sic).
There are no copy rights (sic) on English language.
Mat
USA – Saturday, November 24, 2001 at 14:02:49 (PST)

Mat, a unique configuration of words (be they used to create lyrics, a book, or even META Tags) are considered to be copyright protected. You’ve ripped mine off wholesale, word for word, in their entirety. I don’t see much of a grey area here, but thanks for showing everyone how much you care.
Tim Ireland
UK – Monday, January 07, 2002 at 04:05:22 (PST)

No copyright on the English language?! Perhaps I should release a bestseller under my own name and claim that I sourced the entire thing from the dictionary…

There was no reply to the last entry, but, lo and behold, my Page Title and META Tags were finally removed from the offending page. This has only happened fairly recently, because last time I looked, they were still live in Google’s cache.

I’ve since updated my title and tags anyway (because I now sell more than one book, therefore I’m no longer the ‘world’s smallest bookstore’) so you may be wondering what my beef is.

Well, let’s take a look at the aforementioned guestbook and see what you notice about it:

You have to laugh, really...

Yep, that’s right – I appear to be in very good company. Matt Vartan has also stolen the META Tags and Page Title for Amazon.com! (I’d cut and paste the two to compare them here, but you know how touchy some people are about their META Tags…)

So I dig deeper, only to discover that the ever-so-slightly misguided Matt Vartan has swiped META Tags from other sites for no less than a dozen of his own crappy web pages.

The list of offences is way too long to quote in full here (I know how short your attention span is, you loveable web surfers, you) but I will point out the most brazen and/or entertaining of them. Feel free to dig around for the rest.

This search result from Google will show you two side by side. The only change made to the Tags and Title being what now appears to be the trademark injection of the Matcal Fox name in place of any mention of the original code owner. Apart from Amazon, that is. Matt does not fear the wrath of Amazon.

Meta Tags courtesy of pagehome.com

It doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it either. Not satisfied with describing his guestbook as being the home of the world’s largest bookseller, Matt’s sports page has a woefully misspelled Page Title describing comedy videos, plus a list of keywords from a games site (hints, cheats, help, walkthrough, etc.) with a few movie titles tacked onto the end in high caps. (Well, at least he’s showing some creativity.)

Let’s move on to Matcal Fox’s Internet page (META Tags and Page Title courtesy of angelcitybooks.com).

Another example from angelcitybooks.com

Why he thinks that people searching for out-of-print books would be interested in his ‘Internet’ page is anybody’s guess – especially as it’s made up of one Alta Vista search box and three affiliate links.

What kind of person would fall for this kind of META Tag theft (and, let’s face it, Spam)? Perhaps the same kind of person who looks for employment by searching for movie westerns..

Unemployment Westerns? WTF?!

Well, that’s it really. I can’t be bothered digging any deeper because looking at his site makes my head hurt. I don’t really expect you to take any action, either. What can you possibly do to educate a man who is so shameless and so very, very clueless? Just remember him in your prayers, that’s all I ask.

UPDATE 2 – This page made the top result in Google for the search query ‘Matt Vartan’. Justice is done.

(Oh, and the ‘Male image galleries’ result? Nowt to do with me, but funny all the same…)

Another example from angelcitybooks.com

UPDATE 3 – The Matcalfox guestbook now appears to be all cleaned up, with the tags and titles he ripped off left stubbornly in place (same goes for the rest of the site). The guestbook now features a message from Matt about ‘not giving up’ (he actually quotes from well-known web renegade Winston Churchill of all people). Looks like he’s gonna keep those Amazon META Tags until he gets a letter from their lawyers…

UPDATE 3 – (Nov 02 2004) The Matcalfox website has now disappeared without trace. Matt Vartan himself appears to have left teh Interweb. Probably in a huff, if I’m in any judge.

01-15 February, 2002

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
09:36
Remember the 16-year-old from yesterday’s blog who got busted masturbating over Internet porn by his mother? That’s nothing. This kid is only 15 and has just been busted for running his very own Internet child pornography ring. He is so grounded.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
09:40
I saw it, but I didn’t believe it and didn’t link it. A good thing, too, as snopes has come through with the hard facts about that ‘death by stripper’ story.

I did fall for the orbiting laser cannons, though. Shame on me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
09:46
Scrapheap Challenge is about to go to the next level. I don’t think we should expect fights to the death anytime soon, but it certainly sounds promising.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
09:48
Germany refuses to recognize Scientology as a church, saying it masquerades as a religion to make money. Well, that’s just plain unfair!

There’s no need to panic, though kids…Tom Cruise is on the case.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
09:53
Some rich bastard, clearly not satisfied with mere general derision, feels it necessary to bait the population with a techno version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201
Welcome to Pop-Up Hell
Time
10:43


I just happened across this very scary example of a pop-up alert box. Normally these little buggers say something like; “Would you like to earn $5000 a month from home?” or something equally sad/disturbing, but this one, quite entertainingly I thought, offered me the unique opportunity of blind compliance.

There’s no ‘Cancel’ option, so there goes the ‘nay’ vote. Even the ‘Close’ button is disabled, so I can’t abstain either – all that’s left is ‘OK’ – but ‘OK’ to what exactly?

Setting my home page to www.xxxteenfarmgirlsoncrack.com?

Wiping my C: drive?

Selling my soul to Satan, the Prince of Darkness?

I have to do something soon. I mean, I can’t just sit here and stare at it all day – but my curiosity is stopping me from simply Ctrl+Alt+Deleting its sorry arse off my screen and forgetting about it.

I’ll let you know what develops…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020201

Time
14:22


They just unveiled the new statue of Thatcher but can’t decide where to put it.

Some want it displayed in the House of Commons but, as the article points out, ‘tradition dictates that Prime Ministers cannot be portrayed at Westminster during their lifetime’. I can guess what the typical response to that will be.

Me, I’ve mellowed since the 80′s. I’d be happy to see it anyplace where pigeons can shit on it.

You can see the bloggerheads version of the statue by clicking here.

Oops – here’s another one…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
10:33
Get tips on using the Internet from Honor Blackman

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
10:37
Slightly insane bus drivers makes everyone happy. I prefer the guy named ‘Otto’ (yes, really) who took a school bus on a 100-mile detour.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
12:27
Finally, the Ultimate Insult gets its own domain. Update your links, peeps.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
12:28
Don’t forget to vote for me in the Anti-Bloggies.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
14:40
Thought Chick Publications had the Christian comic book marketing cornered? Think again.

Check out this fantastic anti-porn message from The Truth For Youth.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205
Flash Games
Time
14:43
Get addicted to bouncing galactic octopoids.

(While we’re on the subject – is the plural for ‘octopus’ octopi, octopuses or octopodes?. I’m sure you’re just dying to know.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205

Time
15:24
A man in Florida with a machete beheaded another man during a fight, then placed the severed head on the hood of a car as neighbors watched. Police say the culprit has a history of mental illness.

No! Really?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020205
Latest Viral Agent
Time
15:29
Playmore. It’s like a claymore, only potentially more damaging to those in its vicinity.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020206

Time
09:22
The only man at the Institute of Contemporary Arts with taste and common sense has quit. He actually thinks, like the rest of us, that most modern art is “pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat”. Funnily enough, the rest of the board ganged up on him after this statement and made him fall on his sword.

Hmmm, I just had a great idea for an installation piece…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020206
Flash Games
Time
09:26
It’s the Enron Blame Game! I’ll take Kenneth Lay for $300…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020206
Naming and Shaming
Time
12:06
Bernard Shifman should be proud. He’s just inspired a generation of namers and shamers – myself included:

Matt Vartan Steals META Tags!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020206

Time
13:30
Ronald Reagan is just been announced as the longest living former chief executive. Jinx!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020206
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Time
13:51
The following is taken from the list of Walker’s crisp flavours that are ‘suitable for vegetarians’:

- Walkers Beef & Onion Crisps

- Walkers Smoky Bacon Crisps

- Walkers Roast Chicken Crisps

WTF?!

Crisp fans will note with interest the absence of Cheese and Onion flavour from the list at the site. This is because the cheese powder is made with animal rennet. What’s ‘animal rennet’? It’s an enzyme taken from the stomach of killed newly-born calves. Yum!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207

Time
09:54
More bootleg mixes than you can poke a stick at (link courtesy of popbitch).

This Eminem version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ is pretty seamless, but I still prefer Diffusion’s Eminem Vs Bob The Builder Mashup (call me biased if you must).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207
Flash Games
Time
10:48
Incriminati 2 is here! New! Improved! Now with added Jonathan King!

hehehehe

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207

Time
11:56
Sexy East European girls in fast cars. I can’t get enough of ‘em.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207

Time
15:12
I wondered this myself: why is Carrot Top famous?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207
Recycling
Time
15:39
Challenge your mind with the Google Paradox. If you search for Google in Google, then click on the link for the version of Google that’s held in Google’s cache, then you will clearly see that Google it is not affiliated with itself, nor responsible for its own content. Figure that out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020207

Time
15:55
What do you mean “I’m not on the list”?

Tch!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020208

Time
09:49
Since featuring on fark.com yesterday, the Matt Vartan Steals META Tags page has received over 10,000 visitors. Blogging will be a little slow this morning, as I have a slight backlog of email to deal with.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020208

Time
10:16
You know, now that I think about it, there are a lot of single dads on television.

“Say…do you like gladiator movies, Billy?”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020208

Time
10:58
I sense a theme forming today… Discover your lesbian name.

Mine’s Mugwort ProudCheeks

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020208

Time
16:43

I do apologise for the lack of blogs today. I’ve been ever so busy!

Here’s a quick one to tide you over for the weekend – a tasty meal made especially for the latest farkin’ Photoshopping competition.

Remember who to vote for, people…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211
May the Lord bless you and keep you etc.
Time
08:57
Want to know your rights when testifying in public? Chick has the answer!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
09:01
Oven-baked Palm Pilot.

Mmmm, Palm Pilot (drool)…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
09:04
Interesting that a journalist would take the piss out of blogs like this. Where does he think that the next generation of journalists is coming from?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
09:07
God gives me a full-on robot chubby.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
09:08
Hmmm, I don’t even remember signing up for the scheme, but Nextcard saw fit to email me during the early hours of Saturday morning to let me know that it was all over:

“NextCard is no longer accepting credit card applications. We apologize for the short notice, as we just received these instructions. Please remove all NextCard links immediately, and please discontinue all current and future plans for NextCard advertising.”

The site’s gone, gone, gone but there’s still lots in the Wayback Machine, including an archive from late last week. Looks like they didn’t even see it coming.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
09:18
another.com is auctioning thousands of surplus domain names.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
10:40

It’s long been a dream of mine to see my name in biscuits, now I need dream no longer…

See your name in biscuits here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020211

Time
10:57
Guess which site is the top result in Google for the search query ‘Matt Vartan‘…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020212

Time
09:28
Antibloggies – the results are in.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020212

Time
09:29
Giant Gippsland Earthworm revealed to be a hoax.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020212

Time
10:23
- Intricate and realistic mosque design

- Authentic ‘call to prayer’ alarm

- Glow in the dark face

- Reflective dome with gold finish

- Twin minarets

- Spring-loaded responsive ‘on-off’ button?!

OK, OK, you sold me. I gotta buy a Mosque Clock; even if only because it makes the perfect Christmas gift!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020212

Time
16:04
Go on – have a cow.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020212

Time
16:29
Yet another short and sweet version of Lord Of The Rings.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
08:59
We’re going to be on a bit of a religious kick today, as I’ve just launched my very own church.

Let’s begin the day by finding out what kind of Jesus you are and go downhill from there, shall we?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
09:04
Kick ass for Jesus with the Christian Martial Arts Ministry.

Hiiiiiiiyalujah!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
09:27
Get horny for God!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
10:07


Further proof that the web offers everything:

Creationist Clip Art.

This one’s my favourite…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
10:46
A cool link from The Ultimate Insult:

Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs. Includes many juicy images with frank descriptions.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
11:20
We take a break from our regular programming to urge you to sign the ‘Save Futurama’ petition.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
15:42
This chap seems to have a problem with Chick Publications.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
16:35
Ah me, this brings back memories – Christ On A Bike.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
16:36
Will you be taken up to heaven when the rapture comes? Send your friends, family and other non-believers an automatic email letting them know what the heck happened to you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
17:14
Are you a teen addicted to Jesus?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020213

Time
17:16
This is like shooting fish in a barrel, so I’ll let the Adult Christianity site take up the slack from here and toodle off to bed. I’ll be back tomorrow and in the mood for lurve.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
09:16
Don’t forget: transforming robots need love too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
09:29
Share this woman’s experience with online personals.

“I ran a series of personal ads last year, which attracted the likes of which I never expected! Married men looking for flings, the grammatically challenged, freaky sick perverts, men who don’t even speak the same language I do… you name it!”

There’s much to see and read here, but if you’re in a hurry you might want to just scan the categorised replies.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
09:51
Valentines Day got you down? Did you only get one pity card saying ‘choo-choo-choose me’?

Cheer up, friend – life could be worse. In fact, your love life could be so consistently disastrous as to drive you to buy a ‘Real Doll’ and spend a disturbing amount of time showering it with affection (and, presumably, bodily fluids). That’s just what Gordon Griggs has done and he explains his reasons for buying the most realistic sex-doll on the planet on this page. There are many, many pictures of the doll (named ‘Ginger’) dressed and posed in a number of ways, and even a pic of the man himself stashed waaay down the back. Enjoy.

[UPDATE – Geocities takes this site down from time to time as it often ‘exceeds its allocated data transfer’, but keep the link handy and do check it out when you can. It’s a great site, and well worth waiting for. In the meantime, you might want to entertain yourself by visting this Real Doll repairman.]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214
Burning Love
Time
10:58
Stuck for a date this Saturday night? Meet people with herpes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
11:06
The perfect Valentine’s gift for the big prick in your life.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
11:25
“Darling, would you like my last Rolo?”

BLAM!!!


A man with a ‘long history of mental health problems’ shot his girlfriend because he thought she was about to say words that inexplicably send him into a rage (words like “Snickers” and “Mars”). Good thing he shot her before she did, then. There’s no telling what might have happended had he gone into a rage.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214
Latest Viral Agent
Time
11:33
Give a little boxlove and send your valentine an inflatable bondage bear.

Arrgh… being possessed… by… spirit of evil Elvis… must… sing…

(And a one and a two and a three…)

Oh let me be,

You bondage bear.

Use your leather whips and chains,

And beat me anywhere.

Oh let me be,

Your bondage bear.

thangyouverymuch

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
12:17
There are now fifty-five ways to leave your lover.

Here are the new additions, please update your Paul Simon albums.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
12:57
Don’t let other people push you around.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
13:08
It’s the First Annual Geek Love Photo Contest! “Take a picture of yourself expressing your amorous intents to your favorite geek possession and you could win!”

Now, where’s my Palm Pilot?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
13:12
OK, someone loves you, but do you love yourself?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
13:25
Let her know where she stands with a pimp card.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020214

Time
13:35
Right, I’m off to pledge my love (to the pixies that live in the bottom of my garden). I’d like, if may, to end the VD blogging with three little words.

Have a good afternoon/night all. Here’s hoping that you get lucky.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
09:34
The following sites have recently blogged/linked The Universal Church of the Interactive Network.

Thanks for the love, people. May the bandwidth bless you and keep you.

http://www.bbspot.com/

http://www.crackbaby.com/

http://www.ultimateinsult.net/

http://offonatangent.blogspot.com/

http://www.randomdrivel.com/

http://www.subneural.com/

http://udn.netfirms.com/blogger.html

http://www.zgeek.com/

http://ryanheffley.no-ip.com/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
09:37
Somebody else is on the case, too:

Behold the blogger’s manifesto.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
09:44
Indecisive? Let the Internet decide for you.Yet another great idea from the world of b3ta.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
10:55
Could this site be any uglier?

Erm, yes, yes it could

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
11:04

I just finished a new banner for the church. What do you think, is it convincing enough?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
11:33
Poodle rage. Now I’m not a big fan of poodles, but there are limits.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
13:34
Get your 15 minutes of fame with the Warholiser.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
14:59
How geeks propose. Yes, there’s a happy ending.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
16:48
Live your live according to the law of the playground.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Date
20020215

Time
16:51
The Halifax bank mistakenly used the number of a gay chatline when it sent out helpline information to 15,000 members.

hehehehe

Oh dear, what a difference a digit makes.

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