New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Saturday, July 12

Scrapbook clips catch up

Wait a while and the clips pile up ...

The Berlin gay holocaust memorial is unveiled and among the participants was 95-year-old Rudolf Brazda, who survived incarceration in Buchenwald concentration camp from 1941 to 1945. "It was a terrible time," Brazda said. Asked how he felt now, he responded: "I must say that I feel as though I were in paradise in this democratic society."

What is happening in the Italian blogosphere? I check viral videos regularly and a lot are suddenly Italian. And this is in a list previously 100% dominated by America with occasional Sarkozy interruptions.

Viral, political video on the whole is becoming more international. I've seen (as well as French) some Malaysian and Canadian video pop up with serious numbers of blog postings.

Another, positive, view of the impact of the internet on China:

The Chinese public sphere has become a more freewheeling, interesting and chaotic arena for expressions of opinion than it was. This isn't all due to the Internet (crusading print journalists and activists have also done their part), but bloggers calling attention to official corruption or mocking government policies have definitely helped alter the political landscape.

The politically significant things happening online involve forms of communication, such as efforts to call attention to corrupt acts by local officials, that dovetail with policies that are promoted or at least given lip service by the central authorities.
After racist hiring, another negative against Google Inc: their Daycare arrangements.

The Itch: Its mysterious power may be a clue to a new theory about brains and bodies.

Really recommended science feature from the New Yorker:
The images in our mind are extraordinarily rich. We can tell if something is liquid or solid, heavy or light, dead or alive. But the information we work from is poor—a distorted, two-dimensional transmission with entire spots missing. So the mind fills in most of the picture. You can get a sense of this from brain-anatomy studies. If visual sensations were primarily received rather than constructed by the brain, you’d expect that most of the fibres going to the brain’s primary visual cortex would come from the retina. Instead, scientists have found that only twenty per cent do; eighty per cent come downward from regions of the brain governing functions like memory. Richard Gregory, a prominent British neuropsychologist, estimates that visual perception is more than ninety per cent memory and less than ten per cent sensory nerve signals.


Researchers at the University of Manchester, in England, have gone a step beyond mirrors and fashioned an immersive virtual-reality system for treating patients with phantom-limb pain. Detectors transpose movement of real limbs into a virtual world where patients feel they are actually moving, stretching, even playing a ballgame. So far, five patients have tried the system, and they have all experienced a reduction in pain. Whether those results will last has yet to be established. But the approach raises the possibility of designing similar systems to help patients with other sensor syndromes. How, one wonders, would someone with chronic back pain fare in a virtual world? The Manchester study suggests that there may be many ways to fight our phantoms.
How social networking saved New Orleans: Powered by community, New Orleans residents exposed city hall and the power of social software
Using blogs with names like Fix the Pumps and Squandered Heritage, citizens took up "beats," lending their professional expertise, ingenuity and gumshoe efforts to create a citizens' voice to counter city government rhetoric.
Via David Wilcox: Community networking to tackle climate change
That’s not all, though - I have also been drafted in by Tracey Todhunter to help develop her ideas for a ‘communiversity’ for low carbon communities. She writes about it here. We’re going to start off in my session, so Tracey and her colleagues can develop a strategy using the game; and then take the results into her session to drum up support and refine things.
All about the CivilSerf project:

A global virtual community for teenagers has teamed up with the Matthew Shepard Foundation to educate young online users about dignity and respect.

From next Monday foundation staff will lead discussions twice a week in's InfoBus, which is a virtual room designed to look like the inside of a high-end bus.

Good new resource: The Social Web Analytics eBook 2008

Zugby's blog post about being forced to the ground by armed police in Bournemouth.
I oblige. I'm shocked, confused, scared and embarrassed all at the same time. Most of the bystanders have vacated the platform by now, by police order. And I'm not talking about normal police either. This is the Specialist Firearms Unit, about 8 of them, machine guns, bulletproof vests, police dogs and all. And they're here to arrest ME!
AP feature on Web 2.0 - censoring the right to rant

With online services becoming greater conduits than shopping malls for public communications, however, some advocacy groups believe the federal government needs to guarantee open access to speech. That, of course, could also invite meddling by the government, the way broadcasters now face indecency and other restrictions that are criticised as vague.

Others believe companies shouldn't police content at all, and if they do, they should at least make clearer the rules and the mechanisms for appeal.

Where's Web 2.0 at in the US government?
Local government officials had mixed views about how they see Web 2.0 meshing with their needs, however. Mary Benner, CIO of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, called it "something that we need to pursue, but it is not an immediate priority".

While Web 2.0 can help residents communicate better with their governments, she says, offering those kinds of features is becoming a key way to lure younger IT workers to take jobs in government where they can build innovative Web 2.0 applications.
Dave Briggs' review of Communities in Control, the new white paper by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It's pretty radical but I commented that if you want to address the 'digital divide', which it references, you could start by ramping up funding for UK Online Centres whose CEO has been screaming about underfunding. Not sexy and seemingly not on anyone's agenda.

Craig Tomley offers (tongue in cheek) 10 reasons government agencies should not advertise online
7) Because our senior executives haven't gotten the hang of email yet, and we know that our executives (who approve our ad design and spend) think and act exactly in the same way as our customers, even though they earn more, are degree-qualified, much older and live in Canberra.

Comment from Belgium about the YouTube/Viacon decision:
Obviously, European Youtube users didn’t ask for their youtube usage to be handed over to Viacom Inc.. Who knows what Viacom will do with this highly private data (which contains highly detailed information about people’s interests such as the videos they watch, the various topics they are interested in, and so on)?

I only hope that enough Europeans will formally protest at their country’s privacy agencies and/or at the European institutions. Although, I fear it won’t matter anymore as privacy nowadays has become far less important than Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.

Anyway, please find the contact details for Belgium here.

In the US, the right-wing Xstian preacher Hagee has through take-down been attempting to get off the viral video circuit, but it's backfired.

More on 'The War On Tourism' @ America's borders from Peter Tatchell:
After being held in custody in appalling conditions for over 26 hours by the department of homeland security, Mengal was refused entry to the US and deported. No reasons given. No right of appeal. This is Bush-style democracy in action.
Patricia Hewitt is Nigerian?
Before my retirement, I personally made an over estimation, and stacked the sum of Six Million Three Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds which I totally intend for the purpose of charity and none other which will be supervised Attorney as he will also be the one in charge of securing these funds into your custody.
The historic victory for UK bloggers of Alan Murray in Northern Ireland.
'During my testimony in court I said I was only trying to criticise those in power or those that would speak for us. That right has been upheld by the judge's decision. If the judge had ruled against me, then every blogger would have been vulnerable to charges of intimidation because those at the end of their criticism could claim they were being picked upon. A very bad precedent would have been set,' he said.
Revealed: The ten members of Web’s ‘500 million club’ - Via NetImperative: Only 10 websites and applications - led by MSN Messenger, eBay and Facebook – have averaged at least 500 million UK minutes per month over the last year, according to new research. Facebook, YouTube and Second Life are the fastest growing sites in terms of total UK minutes.

AP: Uncertainty aplenty as Web, media leaders convene
Both media and online leaders are grappling with the Internet's increasing fragmentation. And they're all looking for more advertising revenue online, where media companies have recouped only a small fraction of what they lost in print and where Web companies want to maximize their investments.
Bill Thompson on the reaction to copyright infringement by big corps:
EMI, Warner, V2, Sony BMG and the other four hundred or so members of the BPI want to cut people off from that network for copyright infringement.

Imagine if you had a child who was excluded from school for cheating in an exam, and you were told that they weren't allowed to watch TV, listen to music, read books, talk to their friends or go into any shop during the exclusion.

Oh, and you and your entire family were subject to the same restrictions.

Wal-Mart: Ethical retailing? Hmmm.
The company has been churning out dozens of white papers on sustainability, publicly available on its website, addressing everything from how to change eating and exercise habits to green charities; holding state-of-the art conferences on greening the supply chain; building environmentally efficient stores with open sky lighting and motion sensors to reduce energy consumption; rolling out green products in almost every department; and basing its promotion structure of its own employees, including senior staff, on how successful they are in convincing vendors to adopt measurable environmental standards.
Monbiot: Trawlermen cling on as oceans empty of fish - and the ecosystem is gasping

From PSF, this story made me think of numerous Fairy Tale analogies:, largely involving wolves
Ministers have declared another major sweeping 'new' pan-government efficiency drive aiming to cut down IT spending and slash back-office costs.

The 'Operational' Efficiency Programme kicked off last week with the launch of a series of 'cross-cutting' reviews headed up by a veritable host of business leaders. Each review will report back in March with news of where £££ billions of savings can be made across the public sector.

The first review, led by Martin Jay, chairman of technology and engineering group and former stock market darling Invensys.
Talk about desperation ... in Slate: the movie I'm rushing out to see, Wall-E, is allegedly fattist:
This stereotype of the "obese lifestyle" is simply false. How fat you are has a lot more to do with your genes than with your behavior. As much as 80 percent of the variation in human body weight can be explained by differences in our DNA.
Genius take on all those stories about science's quest to find the cause of gayness by David Ehrensten, merging a “feminized brain” with Plan 9 From Outer Space:
That’s because, Lord Saletan, we know full well who WILL be doing the controlling — Eros from Plan 9 !
Can’t you see him now explaining it all to us? Why is this happening, O Visitors From Another World?
“Because of death. Because all you of Earth are idiots! You see! You see! Your stupid female brains! Stupid! Stupid!”


If ever anything summed up that British "stiff upper lip", this Keep Calm And Carry On poster is it. During the early spring of 1939 and the war with Germany almost inevitable the British Government commissioned this poster to be displayed throughout the country upon the out-break of war. The plan for the poster was to relay a message from the King to his people that all capable measures to defend the country were being taken. This original World War II poster lay undiscovered and forgotten until a copy turned up over 50 years later within a pile of dusty old books bought from an auction, it's soothing message is still relevant today - it understands that you are a little bit stressed but knows you'll be ok. You can purchase heaps of great products that feature the Keep Calm and Carry On logo from this fab site.
The Onion has been celebrating Gay Pride march month (for want of a better word) by pulling together past posts, including this: New Dad Thinks Baby Might Be Gay.

The great Yossi Alpher falls for Sasha Baron-Cohen's latest creation:
"Vait, vait. Vat’s zee connection between a political movement and food. Vy hummus?”
Quote of the week
John Harris on Any Questions?, about the Islington Registrar being allowed to discriminate against gay couples:
It's about privileged beliefs. I'm a vegetarian. If I worked at Tesco and said I'm not going to put meat through the checkout they'd be quite justified in saying 'you're not right for the job'.


  1. Shane McCracken13.7.08

    CivicSurf if you don't mind. Thanks.

    Fancy helping to host a showing of the documentary? Drop us a line shane at civicsurf dot org dot uk