January 2005

Skype and Languages

John Barlow writes about getting Skype calls from chinese girls to practice english. This is once again one of those things where the internet changes everything, with telephones this would have been completely out of the question.

There is probably even a good web business brokering these contacts, it can be done on many levels:

  • People that are willing to exchange practice, for example an English speaker that wants to learn French could hook up with a french speaker wanting the reverse.
  • People that are willing to pay for private lessons and amateur or professional teachers.
  • People that are want to pay for private lessons and teachers amateur or profesional.

I still think Skype needs to be very careful about phone bots and spam creeping into the system.

Iraqi perspective on the elections

Salam Pax on the elections

Salam Pax has done a really humorous and informative guide to the upcoming iraqi elections

"Look, we all know there will be flaws in this election but let's give it a go.
It's not going to be perfect... but do you have a better solution?"

I really hope the elections bring some improvements

License to Sit

licence to sit There are many kinds of art but I have not seen good political art in a long time until this "Licence to Sit".

Here is the Internet Chair with magnetic stripe card reader and spikes that retract when a seating license is downloaded from a license server in response to input from the card reader incoroprated into the chair.

If you are following the insipid growth of service locked devices and digital rights management this piece is much scarier than funny.

Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence

Mamoru Oshii


I recently saw the first Ghost in the Shell and was blown away by all the things that it had pioneered, a lot of the visual style in Matrix was directly ripped from it. So I had high expectations walking in to see this iteration. Instead of innovating new visual styles I feel this one is more a series of homages to other movies like Bladerunner. I also feel the coexistence between the computer animated and hand animated is strained at time. The story is ultimately more understandable even a little thin. Worth seeing for its stunning images but ultimately disappointing.

Carl Beeth

CNN cancels Crossfire

Not only did Jon Stewart scores big with the internet crowd when he attacked CNN's Crossfire live on their own show but CNN boss, Jonathan Klein has also hear him and axed the show.

"CNN is a different animal," Mr. Klein said. "We report the news. Fox talks about the news. They're very good at what they do and we're very good at what we do."

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

Just one question, If CNN reports the news and Fox Comments on the news who analyses the news?

What do you believe in?

Edge.org has published their annual question; "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" as usual it’s full thought provoking stuff from all all kinds of luminaries.

Is there a fourth law of thermodynamics, or some cousin of it, concerning self constructing non equilibrium systems such as biospheres anywhere in the cosmos?
I like to think there may be such a law. ...
Stewart Kauffman
I believe in belief—or rather: I have faith in having faith. Yet, I am an atheist (or a "bright" as some would have it). How can that be?
It is important to have faith, but not necessarily in God. Faith is important far outside the realm of religion: having faith in other people, in oneself, in the world, in the existence of truth, justice and beauty. There is a continuum of faith, from the basic everyday trust in others to the grand devotion to divine entities.
Tor Nørretranders

Many more at edge.org